Assisted living facilities have a duty to provide safe living accommodations and competent, compassionate care for their residents. Unfortunately, these facilities face numerous risks, including rising costs, the prevalence of chronic diseases, and residents with cognitive declines. To combat these risks, facilities enhance the protection of assisted living facility insurance with health programs that are designed to encourage wellness among residents. Health programs take many forms, and each has its own distinct advantages in fostering a better quality of life for residents of assisted living facilities (ALFs).
Health Programs: Enhancing Quality of Life for ALF Residents
According to a project commissioned by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and published in the Physical Activities Guidelines for Americans 2nd Edition, adults aged 65 and over can benefit from regular physical activity. Proactive ALFs are incorporating these guidelines into their daily operations in the form of physical activity health programs. Physical activity:
- Improves social engagement among ALF residents.
- Lowers the risk of dementia.
- Reduces the symptoms of depression and anxiety among participants.
- Manages chronic diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.
- Preserves and supports mobility and physical functions.
Nutritional health programs have also gained acceptance within the ALF care delivery model. Nutrition is critical in helping to manage illnesses, and good nutrition is the cornerstone of a long and healthy life. Many ALFs have incorporated nutrition programs to improve food quality and to bring residents together into social interaction. By reducing pre-packaged foods, ALFs can slash salt and sugar intake among residents. Registered dieticians often help with menu development, focusing on naturally-sourced and seasonally available fruits, grains, and vegetables to provide higher-quality and nutrient-rich meals for residents.
There are many other health program options available for ALF managers to consider. Some of these include yoga, water aerobics, guided meditation, and stress management programs. By themselves or in combination with others, these wellness programs greatly enhance the quality of life for residents and help to promote healthy lifestyles.
Advantages of Health Programs in Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities are facing significant challenges in their healthcare delivery model. Staffing shortages, rising costs of insurance, and an aging resident population necessitate risk management strategies. Health programs represent a leading strategy, helping to reduce risks not covered by typical assisted living facility insurance solutions.
Health programs that encourage physical activity and improve nutrition among ALF residents have certain advantages, not only for the residents themselves but also for the facilities incorporating these programs. Advantages include:
- Reversing the long-term effects of poor nutrition in elderly residents. Food insecurity, or the struggle to afford healthy foods, has led to a sharp rise in malnutrition rates in America’s senior population. ALFs that incorporate nutrition programs have seen substantial improvements in residents’ health outcomes after adding vitamin-rich and fresh foods to menus.
- Improving facility retention rates. It is no secret that ALF managers wish to have facilities full of happy residents. Numerous studies have shown that wellness programs, including nutrition, physical activity, and social programs, make ALFs more attractive to potential residents. More importantly, existing residents are happier and healthier; they tend to stay rather than seeking alternative accommodations.
- Slashing the expenses associated with chronic diseases. While adding health programs to ALFs may incur substantial startup costs, particularly related to nutrition programs, these programs ultimately pay for themselves in reduced medical expenses. By cutting the rates of cardiovascular diseases, managing diabetes, and improving resident function and mobility, health programs are a valuable and cost-effective addition to facility amenities.
ALF managers and owners should add health programs to their risk management strategies. Coupled with comprehensive assisted living facility insurance, these programs make facilities better places to live and promote wellness among residents. The cost savings associated with improved quality of life have long-term effects as well; faced with staffing shortages, wellness and health programs reduce the burdens placed on staff members, allowing them to provide compassionate care with fewer complications among residents. Finally, hospital readmission rates are lowered significantly in facilities adding health programs to their daily operations. This can further reduce healthcare costs associated with older adults.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at 877.226.1027.