A guide to boosting your care home’s occupancy rates, with the help of the industry experts.

The demand for care is something which will always be present, but with many care homes all over the country, it makes for a competitive market. It goes without saying: the more rooms you have occupied, the greater your revenue is. This brings other benefits including a boosted reputation and an overall happy home. Due to the way the care industry is moving forward, with new tendencies evolving all the time, thanks to introductions of latest technology and amenities, it means that, in order to be at the forefront of potential residents’ and their families’ mind’s, keeping up with these is essential.

Boosting occupancy rates within a care home can be a challenging task, but there are several feature angles you can consider to attract more residents.

Each care seeker will be looking for different things in a care home. However, Chris Donnelly, CEO at Found CRM and Co-Founder of Lottie, explained that their research has found that 77% of care seekers have revealed resident morale and satisfaction is the highest weighted factor to choosing a care home.

“Often a range of amenities, such as a garden, library, hair and beauty salon and cinema, are attractive to care seekers, due to the variety of entertainment and activity options these will provide. What’s more, home-from-home experiences, such as a Sunday roast and day trips into the local community, are highly valued by care seekers,” added Chris.

Ultimately, many older adults make the decision to move into a care home to elevate their health and wellbeing later in life. Finding a home that offers a variety of activities, facilities and home-comforts will be at the top of each care seeker’s priority list, despite the care and support they require.

If your home boasts a range of premium amenities, marketing these correctly is crucial to draw in new residents, and Chris sees that the language you use to describe your home and facilities is vital in promoting the image of a high-quality care home. If your care home offers premium amenities, it’s important to highlight these in all of your marketing activities, including your website, social channels, email and PR activity.

“Try to target your marketing activity towards care seekers who may be looking for homes with the premium services and amenities you provide – and differentiate yourself from other care providers nearby.

“Often reviews and feedback from residents and their families can act as a powerful marketing tool and build trust, encouraging potential residents to consider your home as an option,” Chris explained.

Personalised care plans are often a feature which stands out to new residents, with them clearly outlining the care and support a resident requires, such as medication, round-the-clock-care or any mobility assistance.

Personalised care plans are attractive to potential residents as they are unique to their individual care needs, and often include their likes and dislikes, favourite foods and typical daily routine. Chris revealed how these plans allow residents to actively participate in decisions about their care, and to form connections and trust with their care providers, creating a more person-centred and compassionate care environment.

Chris said: “For family members there is peace of mind; they are handing over the care of their loved one to a team of care professionals who are able to tailor their support exactly to their loved ones’ requirements.”

Community engagement is a great way for a care home to get their name out there, and Chris sees that holding events which invite residents from the local area is a great way to boost occupancy rates. They often raise awareness of your home in the area, and you’re able to show the local community the activities and facilities on offer at your home, as well as the opportunity to meet your team.

For example, in August, the team at Lottie will be helping Portsdown View Care Home in Havant put on their very own family friendly festival – Care-Chella. From sweet carts, live performers, glitter tattoos, flower garland making, a bouncy castle, food truck stations and drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) – the event is free to anyone in the local area that would like to celebrate the summer months with residents at Portsdown View Care Home.

Positive reviews and testimonials are one of the key driving forces for boosted occupancy rates.

Prospective residents and their relatives are interested in hearing honest feedback from current care home residents, so it’s important to actively engage with, and respond to, reviews.

Chris advises sharing your reviews on multiple platforms to showcase positive comments and testimonials: on your website, social media channels and marketing materials: “This helps build trust and credibility among potential residents and their families.”

Chris revealed how it’s also important to utilise any feedback shared for quality improvement by analysing your reviews to identify areas for improvement and implement necessary changes.

Reviews can provide valuable insights into the strengths and weaknesses of your home’s services, facilities and staff interactions. By using feedback to drive quality improvement initiatives, care homes can continuously enhance the resident experience and align their services with residents’ needs and expectations.

Sarah Loveday, Founding Partner of Bounce Forward, explained how recent research suggests that families looking for care for a loved one now have more homes to choose from than ever before (families now research 10 care homes, rather than 3) and they are demanding a high level of customer service as they navigate all their choices.

“You have 7 seconds to make a good first impression and, from the moment a family walks through your door, they are assessing your home’s ability to care for their loved one. How does your home look, smell and feel?

“It is vital that every enquiry is nurtured from their first contact with you. Whether you have a dedicated sales person, or your home manager or administrator manages your enquiries, everyone, including the reception team, will need thorough training, so they can provide the best possible experience in a confident manner to every enquiry you receive,” Sarah added.

We know that social media now plays a crucial part in showcasing your home, and your website is the window to your care home. To ensure you’re getting the most from your social pages, and in order to boost occupancy rates, Sarah encourages you to ask yourself ‘are there grammatical or spelling mistakes? Are your social media posts uplifting with lots of happy photos?  Is your website easy to navigate and are its words welcoming, or full of jargon?’ Each of these points is key in making a good first impression.

Sarah believes that it is essential to have a CRM system in place to help track and monitor enquiries.  “Make sure you capture the right data from your enquiry’s contact details through to their referral source – after all, you want to know what is working from a marketing perspective.  Those responsible for managing your enquiries need to adhere to best practice and follow up the enquiry when they say they will.”

Remember, no-one goes window shopping for care. Each enquiry has the potential to be the next resident to move in with you!

Bounce Forward’s team successfully filled many care homes before setting up their own business to help homes maximise their occupancy.  See their website www.bounce-forward.co.uk for details of their enquiry handling, competitor tracking, mystery shopping services and more, all bespoke to your care home.

Remember that effective marketing strategies, clear communication, and actively engaging with potential residents and their families are vital to boosting occupancy rates. By highlighting the unique features and benefits of your care home, you can attract more residents and create a thriving community.

* Internal analysis created by Lottie via Google Keyword Planner over the last 12 months. Full data set is available on request.

**Internal survey created by Found in 2020. Full data set is available on request.