Paying it Forward Part 1: A Beacon in The Storm.

For many people there is probably no more frightening and confusing time than when suddenly confronted with a need to consider long-term healthcare options for a family member. Especially if this comes after an already stressful medical crisis such as an accident, injury, or stroke. Like a ship being tossed on a raging sea, it seems as if the whole once-stable world is spiraling out of control as they are buffeted by an unending and usually contradictory torrent of advice from well meaning friends, relatives, and neighbors. How can you, a healthcare provider, help them navigate the sea of confusion – and at the same time create a new client? This is the first of two articles that might help you to “pay it forward.”

We all know that each person’s circumstances are different. Therefore, the options for their healthcare, as well as the means by which these are funded, are different. The instinctive reaction to “…Get [the loved one] on Title 19” might not always be the best solution. We also know that healthcare insurance has seen drastic change recently. Everyone knows these things – but not everyone outside of the industry knows what it all means as well as you do. There are many variables that will determine a family member’s care: How old are they? Are they on Medicare? Are they a veteran? Where do they live? Do they have a spouse? Dependants? And the answers to each of these questions opens up more questions. Most people do not know this. You do. And simply saying to someone “Why don’t you come in, and I can talk to you about some of the options you might have in your case…” will go light-years farther toward making them a future client than a hard-sales pitch.

Certainly there are issues where people need professional consultation with an attorney, an accountant, their local chapter of the Bureau of Veteran’s Affairs – or all of the above and then some. They also want to consider the wishes of the person at the center of the discussion: The loved one who needs extended care. And there is the likelihood that there are more options open to them than they can currently process, given the fact that all of this is weighing down on them so suddenly. But we all know that that most people – ourselves included – will usually decide to make any big decisions in the favor of where they feel comfortable, and where they feel that they have been treated the most honestly and fairly. Putting a high-pressure sales pitch, or worse yet, a fear-instilling guilt trip on a family will do nothing more than turn them toward a different care provider. “Taking them under your wing,” however, will generate very good relations, that will likely result in them calling upon you to be their care-givers.

Having someone come in and calmly walking through some choices with them is a great way to build personal rapport and start constructing the bridge from stranger to client. Showing them around your facility is another great way. Of course, you have many things to attend to yourself, in the course of a day, so the idea of a fully immersive, 360-degree Virtual Tour has proven to be a great marketing tool for making people feel familiar with your place from the comfort of their own computer screen. The options for customization and interactivity are nearly limitless, and not only provide the viewer with all of the information you would, in person, but they break down that wall and make people feel as if they already know your place. When they do walk through those doors they feel “…like they’ve been there before.” And that too, goes a long way toward turning a confused stranger into a confident client.

We live in a world where growing old, and facing medical situations is inevitable for nearly everyone. On top of this, the alternatives we all have for pursuing long-term care are widely varied, and often confusing. Like that ship making its way through battering waves, people need to make choices, and they need help from someone who knows these waters, in order to make the best decisions for their situation. If you, as the care provider, act like a beacon in the storm you will not only help them see where the shore is, but may very well bring them into port as well.