Day in and day out, senior living professionals are asked to interact with possible referral sources. From doctors to social workers to trust officers, these individuals play an integral role in how a senior living facility serves its community.
Social workers are a particularly important group because of their importance in assisting clients with major transitions, whether they serve a hospital or home health organization or are a hospice social worker or private geriatric care manager.
As seniors and their caregivers deal with health issues associated with aging that make it impossible to live on their own any longer, discharge planners and social workers offer guidance and options, often advising on the selection of a senior living facility. When asked to do so, these social workers typically recommend communities they are familiar with—which makes them an important audience for executive directors and marketing staff of assisted living communities.
Hosting a continuing education event
Each year at Blair House Senior Living, an assisted living facility in Macon, Ga. that is operated by Senior Management Advisors, the executive director and staff coordinate a unique CEU event for area social workers. The event is typically scheduled for March, which is National Social Worker’s Month.
The idea behind the event is to provide something of value for social workers and discharge planners—continuing education units—while also establishing and/or strengthening the community’s relationship with these important referral sources. Traditionally, CEU programs cost at least $150 and the most useful programs may be few and far between. Blair House chose a topic that would be of great value to attendees: elder care law and the issues surrounding it.
The first issue was to gain acceptance as a CEU provider. Blair House coordinated the program through CEU Concepts, a company that specializes in providing continuing education programming for healthcare professionals. Companies like this handle all necessary paperwork that must be approved through the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) for each attendee.
Blair House kept costs low by recruiting a volunteer speaker, Patrick C. Smith of the Smith Law Firm, an expert in elder law who has experience with senior-specific issues including financial planning, Medicaid planning, veterans benefits, guardianship issues and health and personal care planning. CEU Concepts assisted in vetting him to confirm his qualifications through the governing body of social workers.
This was particularly helpful because the paperwork involved is highly technical and the process can be difficult as well as time consuming for a community’s executive director who is not familiar with the regulations. Based on Blair House’s experience, the following recommendations should be helpful in planning a similar CEU program:
- Work with a third party organization that is expert in organizing CEU programs.
- Work with a minimum of two months of lead time. Anything less and you can increase the cost of the CEU approval process and also not have time to effectively market the event.
- Remember the power of social media and online communications. Once Blair House issued the invitations, a number of social workers posted the event to their personal website or to area association pages, which led to a spike in registrants as the word spread within the professional community.
- Online registration is a must! Nearly all the registrants for the Blair House CEU program utilized online registration.
The CEU event was held in mid-March and drew more than 50 professionals, an impressive turnout for a community the size of Macon. Brief tours of the facility were provided prior to the program and materials about the community were given to each attendee. This was particularly important with an audience such as social workers, who have busy schedules and usually lack the time to visit individual communities.
The program was well worth the cost. For $1,500 plus the cost of providing dinner to attendees, Blair House was able to provide a valuable experience for an important network of social workers in the Macon area, while introducing them to their senior living facility – something that can certainly be considered a win/win for all involved.
This article was written by DeAnn Young, regional manager of Senior Management Advisors, a leading operator of full-servie independent living, assisted living, and Alzheimer’s care residential communities in Georgia and Florida.