Just got back from a couple of days in beautiful Fredericton, New Brunswick, where I was doing a talk at the third annual “Excellence in Aging Care” symposium organized by PI® client York Care Centre. This interdisciplinary meeting was a gathering of approximately 350 professionals currently working in the assisted living industry. Given the sessions on the conference program and general “coffee-break chatter”, it appeared to me that there were a number of hot-button topics:
1.Employee sourcing and retention: How do companies find and keep great people, especially in an era of shifting employee expectations, and do so at reasonable cost? In the words of one facility Executive Director that I spoke to, “I’m continually thinking about ways to make this a special place to work so my people don’t walk right out the front door to make 50 cents an hour more someplace else.”
2.Keeping pace with business demand: A challenge in many industries is not enough customers. A challenge in the assisted living space may be too many customers. Many C-level executives at the conference talked about managing growth in a disciplined, thoughtful and sustainable way.
3.Improving patient safety and service levels: Consumers of assisted living services increasingly have choices, as well as easy access to comparative effectiveness data. With this data becoming more available and transparent, facilities that can achieve superior performance on these metrics will have a competitive advantage in a crowded marketplace.
4.Developing the next generation of leaders: Like many other industries, the assisted living industry is facing the possibility of many leaders retiring in the next five years. Ensuring the continuity of leadership at the facility level, finding and keeping leaders who can cope with change, and preserving important institutional knowledge, are key challenges on the horizon.
In my experience, U.S.-based facilities are also coping with these challenges, as well as one more – cost control in an era of changing Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement rates. BTW, the assisted living industry is now a $165 Billion industry, with over 75,000 facilities in the U.S. alone.