There's little better an indicator of a thriving care home than one whose beds are all occupied and potential new residents are being put on a waiting list. Care homes that run at capacity are assured of maximum revenue and optimum return from their investment in staffing, equipment and facilities.
For the years 2015/16 in the UK, occupancy rates averaged 88.4% with residential care homes running at 90.7% and nursing care homes at 87.7%. This is relatively healthy and is an improvement on previous years as the graph from Knight Frank Research below shows.
In this post, I look at three ways to improve bed occupancy. Ideas and tips include some low cost, short term boosts and also some long-term investments that are known to improve occupancy.
1. Organise an open day or community event
Care home open days and events give everyone an uplift. Residents enjoy the company and benefit from the stimulating buzz, carers get to show the community their vital day-to-day routine and the care home gets welcome exposure. It is a great way to become part of the local community and regular open days will give your home real presence in the area. Families considering the option of a putting a loved one into a care home will likely visit the home if the event is well advertised.
When organising an event or open day, ensure you have plenty to offer visitors. Provide complimentary refreshments, organise activities, invite a local charity and arrange tours of your facilities. Also, make sure you advertise the event well and if you do invite a charity, they will likely promote the event too.
2. Upgrade the home's interiors and create a more pleasant care environment
If anything improves occupancy, it's a home's interiors. Care homes that provide high quality care can often be misperceived when the home is dated and unhomely. On the other hand, a care environment that is well furnished, well lit and has a pleasant air to it will win over potential residents and their families.
Upgrading your facility can start with a simple tidy and clean. Painting some walls in warm colours and using matching soft furnishings can really bring the home to life. Investing in new furniture such as tables and chairs can soon transform a home and make it an attractive living environment.
Getting an external interior design team to come into the home and share their thoughts and ideas with you will prove massively beneficial. If needed and if you have the budget, a complete refurbishment will make a huge difference to home. You could do it room by room to help with the cost and minimise disruption.
We supply beds, furniture and furnishings for care home refurbishments and new-builds, and have a design team experienced in creating rooms that sell. We'd love to talk to you about your home and how we can help to improve occupancy levels by creating a pleasant and homely care environment by upgrading interiors.
3. Offer something that distinguishes you from other care homes in the area
This could be anything, from being the only home in the area that does regular day trips to the countryside to being the only home in the area that serves Earl Grey tea. Just do something that sets you apart and makes you that little bit more attractive to potential residents.
Offer a service, create an activity or develop a scheme that stimulates residents and improves their quality of life. There are plenty of ideas out there, and we try to share a lot of them on this blog. Here are a few:
- A library with regular reading groups
- Visits from a local children's nursery
- Hen-keeping for the animal loving residents
Let your mind wander, there's so much you could do that others don't. Invite residents' families to come and dine once a month, set up singing groups or create a drama class so that residents can entertain each other. One care home offers residents a leisure cruise across the Mediterranean using virtual reality!
Do you have any other ideas on improving occupancy levels in care homes? Share them in the comments section below.