Making the Most of your SNF and Rehab Discharge Process

By Rick Hunsicker, Vice President Sales Services – Western Division

The beauty of a Life Plan Community is that as a resident needs more care, they can easily move to higher levels of care. However, one of the biggest missed opportunities is the reverse: residents moving from higher levels of care to lower levels of care.

What do I mean?

When you discharge external admissions from your skilled nursing and rehab area, they are usually going to a lower level of care, right? And, in many cases they return to where they came from, which is usually their home, perhaps with home care services delivered during a recovery period.

Can you honestly say that every discharged resident with the financial ability to live in your other levels of care, or their family members, are fully aware of the additional levels of care in your community before they leave your nursing or rehab?

We see many instances where skilled nursing or rehab residents are sent home without even realizing that there are other options at your community that may be a better fit for the resident. The transition home may be easier if the next move is to assisted living, memory care or even independent living, where strength and function can be improved before going back home. We have also seen that a move from skilled nursing or rehab to the next appropriate level of care ends up being a permanent move, even though the idea at the time was a temporary plan.

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So, how do you make sure residents and families have this knowledge?

In most cases, the social worker is well aware of the financial abilities of their SNF or rehab residents. They may even know the financial abilities of the family, and what lower level of care would be most appropriate for the discharged resident. They also know the expected discharge date.

Set up a system where the social worker connects with whoever is selling your AL, MC and IL at a set time each week to discuss discharging residents and family contacts, with a recommended time for them to meet with the resident or family member before they leave the community.

You can also instruct the social worker to let the resident or family know that a representative from the community would like to meet to provide valuable information about additional services your community offers, before discharge is complete.

Sales team members from other areas visit with the resident and family members, and share information about their level of care. Ideally, they are also able to give a presentation and show their area to the resident and family members.

I know it sounds like a very simple and logical process, but I’m often amazed how frequently this doesn’t happen. Besides, we know that there are lost sales and move-ins to assisted living, memory care and independent living by the community’s actual customers who just received excellent service and care from you in SNF or rehab.

Regardless of your level in the organization, take a look at what’s happening in the discharge process to make sure that financially qualified SNF and rehab residents and families are presented the opportunity to continue to receive quality service in your other levels of care before they leave.

If you’d like more information on how to implement this type of system, or have other questions or concerns regarding maximizing occupancy at all of your levels of care, please contact Tim Bracken at 410-207-0013 or Rick Hunsicker at 214-906-3801.

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