Investors, developers and operators are in love with memory care. It feels something like the California gold rush where between 1848 and 1855 at least 300,000 people made their way to Northern and Central California fueled by rumors of gold just lying in creeks ready to be plucked by whoever got there first. There were a few people that made a lot of money, some from gold and others from selling stuff to gold seekers, but for most, it was a huge bust . . . I am worried that memory care could turn into something like the gold rush. Memory Care Success There are two keys to being successful at developing, owning and operating memory care communities. The first is selecting the right site in the right marketplace. The second and ultimately more important is that you need to have a great program and an effective marketing strategy. I recently spent some time talking to the folks at Sage Age Strategies about the work they did with one of their memory care clients to assist them in becoming the premier memory care community in their marketplace. Here’s what they did:
- The core goal: Create deep relationships with those people who are caring for individuals with dementia at home. The vehicle for accomplishing this was to become the most trusted, valuable caregiver resource hub in the local marketplace.
- This approach required two important philosophical underpinnings:
- An understanding that this is a long- term strategy, which means a move-in might be months or even years into the future.
- The resources need to be provided unconditionally. In other words, they need to be a resource for all caregivers, even those who are unlikely to move their loved into the community.
- The first step involved Sage Age working with the memory care staff to gather local and industry resources that would be helpful to caregivers.
- The second step was doing local market research to uncover specific local needs.
- An important component of that market research was to identify local experts who could be utilized to train staff, do presentations to caregivers and be available to serve care givers who are still providing home based care.
- The final step was to train marketing and life enrichment staff to be able to make presentations to the public that addressed the needs of home caregivers. This included Sage Age providing training and visual aids to support these presentations.
Implementation and Results
With the stage set, Sage Age created an informative multimedia campaign that included print, online, direct mail and social media to tell the community about these resources. The specific resources included literature, expert presentations and support groups. The final element was to collaborate with the memory care community staff to engage in both qualitative and quantitative assessments of the entire process. This campaign succeeded in establishing the memory care community as the “go to” resource for all family members faced with the daunting task of caring for someone with dementia. What has been particularly gratifying is that not only have family members turned to the client-community for help, but local referral sources that traditionally try not to play favorites, are now recommending this Sage Age client. Have you been able to establish your community as a local senior expert? How have you done it?