Five Things to Consider when Starting an Assisted Living Facility
1. Hire a great team.
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised by how many people open facilities with a limited staff–often, people starting up communities are strong workers, and rely on their own drive and energy to perform all manner of tasks. This type of ambition is admirable, no doubt, but it is also unsustainable. Assisted living care can be as rewarding as it is challenging, but the challenges are still very real. When bringing on new staff, it’s important to take into account some things you might not find on a resume: How might they set a resident’s concerned family member at ease? How would they react in a stressful emergency situation? Obviously, all staff (both administrators and caregivers) should have all requisite training and certification. Beyond that, it’s on you to make sure the talents of your staff mesh with the specialization or mission of your facility.
2. Find the perfect location.
The number one rule of real estate unsurprisingly applies to your new business. Take into account the market you’re about to enter. How many assisted living facilities are in the area, and what types of services do they provide? Are pockets of seniors going underserved? If there is competition the area, is the population of potential residents big enough to keep your business booming? You should carefully weigh the benefits of owning your property against those of renting, and it is imperative that you have a thorough understanding of your community’s zoning laws. Consider whether you need to build or extensively renovate your facility make every bedroom, hallway, bathroom and common space handicap accessible.
3. Determine which services you will provide.
It’s hugely important that you, a future assisted living facility owner, have a clear mission statement in place before you decide to open your doors to residents. What is your ideal number of beds, and what special offerings will be available to your residents? What is your vision of a supportive, healthy, and happy environment? In short, what kind of care do you plan to offer, and how? This industry is expecting substantial growth in the next decade, and there has been a corresponding boom in newly-minted facilities. With this level of competition, many assisted living facility operators are looking to specialize, carve out their niche, and deliver excellent, focused care. Let your expertise and your interests inform your specialization. Know the amount of resources it takes to provide care to the infirm, for instance. Offer only services for which you are well-equipped and passionate–this will help you attract residents and make your job easier and more joyful.
4. Identify what regulations and licensing pertain to you.
Though most assisted living communities are conceived and run with a true spirit of altruism and passion, the fact remains that even the best-intentioned ventures are bound to a set of strict regulations, on both federal and state levels. The complexity of licensing protocol may be overwhelming, but not if you enter the industry with realistic expectations and preparedness. Each state has different requirements for individual caregivers and administrators, as well as the facility itself. State affiliates of ALFA (Assisted Living Federation of America) can be a great resource for keeping up to date on your state’s changing regulations, and connect you with other industry leaders in your community.
5. Install the required technology – don’t skimp!
Lots of assisted living pioneers envision starting small, sometimes in a bed and breakfast type setting. While this is a perfectly charming aesthetic choice, it’s crucial to realize that your new facility requires the technological outfitting of any other business. That means accessible computers for your residents, reliable WiFi for access to the internet and communication with friends and family, nurse-call buttons, and security cameras. You’ve researched your federal and state regulations, submitted all necessary forms, and attained proper licensing. On top of that, you created a clear vision for your new facility, and you’ve invested in a team of talented and trustworthy people. With all these moving pieces, a lot of fledgling assisted living facility operators tend to struggle with organization. Investing in top-notch assisted living software can bring all these disparate responsibilities under one roof. With some of today’s software, you can store all necessary paperwork (for both your staff and your residents) in an incredibly safe, readily accessible, and economical way. You can manage your team of nurses and administrators, making it way easier to delegate responsibilities. Some software will even help you attract new residents and market your new business. In short, using a customizable platform, like ALIS–one that really caters to your facility’s unique needs–will empower you to be the best leader possible. Learn more about what ALIS can provide your new community!