Press

A collection of resources for senior care providers and their businesses.

By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: March 25, 2016

Marketing 101 for senior health care professionals

Geriatric health care professionals must make efforts to garner a strong client base.

Society will always need health care providers, especially for senior citizens. However, geriatric professionals must still make efforts to garner a strong client base - that's where marketing tactics come into play. Health care education doesn't always tap into the business side of this field, but understanding the customer and leveraging advertisements goes a long way in career success. Here are some strategies senior health care professionals can employ:

Focus on the client experience
Providing quality care is an integral component of a provider's job. After all, as a health care professional, you're likely motivated by boosting your client's quality of life and overall well-being. Fortunately, doing this has further benefits as it can lead to referrals and promote your business.

Research from the Center for Studying Health System Change found that the when people look for a new primary care physician, over 50 percent depend on their family and friends' word-of-mouth referrals. While this survey addressed the topic of finding a new doctor, the same concept may apply for home health nurses who serve seniors or assisted living communities. So give clients a positive reason to talk about you - it may work in your favor!

Initiate a campaign
Get current and potential clients to discuss your services or organization by launching a campaign for change. These endeavors can even turn into Internet sensations and garner attention for your services and cause.

For example, as a senior care provider, you can raise awareness about Alzheimer's Disease. According to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America, this condition affects about 5.1 million individuals in the U.S., and it's particularly apparent among older populations. To put public focus on this issue, organize a 5K walk as a means to raise research money or host an event where family members can share their personal experiences.

 

Senior woman using tablet.More seniors are using the Internet, so include this platform in your marketing plan.

Leverage your online presence
Contrary to popular belief, more members of the older adult population are adopting online technology. Data from the Pew Research Center revealed that 59 percent of seniors use the Internet, which is up from previous years. As such, developing an online profile for your services may be an effective way to reach potential clients. Even for seniors who aren't so computer-savvy, their children or other family members may turn to the Web to search for a geriatric care provider or suitable assisted living space.

There are plenty of marketing avenues available for those in senior health care. It's vital to engage current clients while also reaching out to new ones to expand your business.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Article  |  On: March 11, 2016

4 tips for provider-to-patient communication

As a health care professional, you recognize that building a relationship of trust and understanding with patients is vital to creating effective and meaningful care plans. After all, how can you determine a treatment process unless the individual is honest? The switch from pay-for-volume to value-based care puts an even greater importance on bedside manner. As such, it's vital for providers to apply best-practice tactics when talking with patients/clients. Here are four tips to get started:

"Bettering communication skills is good for business."

1. Recognize a need for change
You've likely entered the health care field because you enjoy both the technical skills involved with the job and working with people. As such, you always have the patients' best interest in mind with the things you do and say. Unfortunately, that good-natured effort doesn't always translate for those in your care. Your demeanor or general approach can raise red flags for individuals without you even realizing it, and the first step to improving communication is to recognize a need for change.

Additionally, bettering your communication skills is simply good for business. Remember, individuals typically only post online reviews if they are either extremely satisfied or incredibly discouraged by their experience. By improving the patient/client experience, you may garner more positive ratings or prompt individuals to refer you by word of mouth, which is very meaningful in terms of acquiring new patients. According to survey results published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, 38 percent of respondents regarded word-of-mouth referrals from family and friends as "very important" when selecting a physician. Meanwhile, 47 percent said it was "somewhat important."

2. Make eye contact
Eye contact is vital for letting people know you're listening and care about what they're saying. It's possible to pick up on emotions and concerns by paying attention to tone of voice, which are both helpful for interpreting conversation. However, when providers don't make eye contact, patients may perceive that as a lack of concern.

Providers may not even realize they're missing the key factor in effective communication. Jotting down notes on a tablet or looking up information on a computer automatically takes the eyes to a place other than the patient. Writing in a response to the Wall Street Journal, cardiologist Dr. Harlan Krumholz explained that this can actually be harmful to health care, as it can keep patients from being honest with the physician or inhibit them from making tough choices about their well-being. Providers can mitigate this issue by putting down the tablet and focusing on the individual. This may be as simple as telling patients to "wait one moment" while you look up information or narrating what you're doing so they don't think you're ignoring them.

3. Read body language
Along those same lines, providers should use the patient's body language as a communication tool. Sometimes small, subconscious movements say what they can't voice. For instance, fidgeting hands may signal anxiety or teary eyes could mean the patient is worried about an issue. Emotions are an important factor in evaluating the individual's well-being and coming up with an effective response to their concerns.

At the same time, a provider's facial expressions and body language can say a lot. An article posted in the Journal of the American Osteopathic Association explained that when a doctor rushes into the exam room, turns away from the patient while he or she is speaking, or hurriedly scribbles notes, it conveys a sense of impatience or annoyance. Both of those traits can hinder the communication process. Rather, providers should make a point to appear calm and unbiased.

 

Nurse speaking with female patient.Eye contact is important for patient communication.

4. Ask questions
Even if you haven't displayed behavior that hinders the patient-provider communication process, the individual may have had a bad experience with another care provider. Perhaps a past physician or provider seemed rushed, and now the patient or client associates that trait with all providers. As such, patients may withhold information in an attempt not to waste your time. This habit can be detrimental to the care process, as the more details you have as a provider, the more specific you can make the treatment plan.

To ensure the patient/client communicates all pertinent information, ask questions throughout the appointment. The American Academy of Family Physicians advised providers to utilize the BATHE method for this purpose, which focuses on background, affect, trouble, handling and empathy. The first four steps involve asking questions:

  • What is going on in your life?
  • How does it affect you?
  • What about the situation troubles you most?
  • How are you handling that?

For the empathy component of BATHE, providers can follow up the discussion with a statement that conveys empathy like, "That must be very difficult for you." This not only gets the necessary details from patient/client, but it also demonstrates the provider's listening skills, building the trust necessary for an effective provider-patient relationship.

Effective provider-patient communication varies on a case-by-case basis. Some patients won't need much prompting to share vital information, while others will hide behind a wall of distrust. The important takeaways are to give patients the opportunity to express their concerns and show them that you truly care about their well-being.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: February 16, 2016

What does the care community of the future look like?

Care communities have come a long way in delivering quality health and wellness services to seniors. Discover what the future holds for retirees.

Care communities have come a long way in delivering quality health and wellness services to seniors. Even the term "nursing home" has been replaced with the more appropriate "senior living" or "care community." As technology progresses and doctors discover more about senior well-being, the health care industry has followed suit and adapted care communities to fit these changing needs. Here is what health care professionals can expect for the future of these communities:

"The U.S. will be home to 80 million seniors by 2050."

Expect an influx of care communities
Baby boomers are entering the retirement age at a growing speed, and older adults are living longer than ever. According to a U.S. Census Bureau report, the country was home to 44 million adults over the age of 65 in 2014, and experts estimated that number will climb to over 80 million by 2050. As such, the population will become increasingly reliant on senior health care services in the next few decades, and the only way to accommodate this development is to expand the number of care communities.

Time magazine explained that building more care communities may be a good move for the economy. Citing arguments from Keynesian economists, Time noted that this endeavor can open up a plethora of job opportunities and serve as a way to provide more affordable senior care. In turn, this takes a lot of pressure off families who would otherwise struggle financially to provide their senior loved ones with adequate care.

Care communities will cater to specific needs
Not only will care communities become more widely available, but options in types of care and amenities will also be more abundant, according to Andrew Carle, the founding director of George Mason University's Senior Housing Administration.

"Retirees want more choices," Carle told U.S. News & World Report. "When you have 78 million baby boomers, they have a lot of expectations with retirement."

There are several current and emerging opportunities that accommodate the unique-need trend. For instance, university-based retirement care communities grant residents access to campus art exhibits, theatrical performances and other events. Meanwhile, other care communities indulge specific interests, such as aviation, sports and astronomy. In fact, U.S. News highlighted a Chiefland, Florida, community where retirees enjoy homes with built-in telescopes where they can stargaze with neighbors.

Retirees will have access to more amenities
Along the same lines, traditional senior living arrangements will likely offer more amenities for retirees' diverse interests. Some care communities come with an expensive price tag. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a month's rent for a one-bedroom unit in an assisted living location can run residents up $3,293 on average. As such, these individuals want more bang for their buck, and care communities are rising to this demand.

Retirees can expect to see more cultural events, outdoor walking paths, recreation centers and social activities. Not only do these extra perks entice potential residents, but they can boost their well-being. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that participating in physical activities like exercising (or working out at the care community's gym) may help seniors remain mobile. The researchers determined that retirees who stayed active were more likely than sedentary individuals to stave off functional limitations.

 

Senior woman swimming in pool.Care communities will like have high-quality amenities.

Greater integration of technology
Networked/online/digital technology is working its way into just about every facet of life, from elementary schools to company offices, and care communities are no exception to this trend. Integrating technology into these spaces may help retirees remain more independent and live a higher quality of life. In 2011, Dr. Judah L. Ronch of the Erickson School of Aging at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, worked with students and staff to determine exactly what this type of technology would look like.

Writing for Long Term Living, Ronch explained that technology would take over certain tasks to free up care community workers. In turn, these health care professionals could offer their services in instances that require a more human approach. Meanwhile, cyber devices would give residents more control over their health management, encourage social interactions and allow for greater independence. Essentially, they predicted that technology will facilitate already-established trends.

It's important for health care professionals to remain aware of expectations for the future of care communities, as this knowledge will help them prepare for what lies ahead.

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: February 11, 2016

The future of value-based health care

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act launched the transition from the traditional fee-for-service payment model to value-based care, signaling an overall shift in current and future health care industry trends.

The implementation of the Affordable Care Act launched the transition from the traditional fee-for-service payment model to value-based care, signaling an overall shift in current and future health care industry trends. This greater emphasis on quality has clear advantages for patients, but it also brings benefits for the economy.

The New York Times said that experts estimate approximately $6.6 billion of the $2 trillion spent on health care annually goes to tests and hospitalizations that do nothing to promote patient well-being. Fee-for-value reimbursements encourage physicians and their teams to focus on what patients truly need. Here are just a few of the myriad changes that physicians can expect with this switch:

Value will be in high demand

The saying “if you give someone an inch, they’ll take a mile” holds true for patients receiving value-based care. Once consumers have experienced the health advantages of this new reimbursement model, the demand for high-quality care will surge. A report by the Healthcare Financial Management Association concluded that all stakeholders, from patients and consumers to government agencies and health plans, want to know what they’ll receive for their money in terms of care. They want physicians who can not only provide this information but follow through with quality.

This demand will serve as one of the many drivers of change in the health care industry, according to HFMA, contributing to transitions in culture, business, performance and risk management. Physicians will respond to this call in all they do, from conversations with patients to how they use data. For instance, doctors must explain their reasoning to patients when they order a diagnostic test, so consumers can understand how it contributes to their well-being. In fact, medical specialty societies have worked together to create the Choosing Wisely list, which outlines an extensive list of procedures and tests that patients should question.

Meanwhile, Healthcare IT News explained that the demand for value will require doctors to display more transparency when it comes to discussing treatment options and success rates. Physicians may meet this criteria by giving patients more control over their care, which may be as simple as allowing them to choose between brand-name prescriptions and generic medications.

Primary care will be more abundant and accessible

This point has two components: filling the primary care shortage and increasing availability of care. For the former, the problems associated with a lack of physicians will only get worse with time. As the Health Resources and Services Administration explained, the number of providers will increase 8 percent by 2020, while the demand for primary care will elevate by 14 percent. This shortage is problematic in terms of providing value-based care because with fewer doctors and greater responsibilities, patients won’t be able to receive the attention needed for boosting their well-being. Clearly, change is necessary to close this gap.

One solution is more nurse practitioners. Unlike registered nurses, NPs have the ability to write prescriptions and order diagnostic testing, similar to physicians. Additionally, the number of NPs is projected to grow 31 percent by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which can help alleviate the primary care shortage.

At the same time, increasing physician’s accessibility can help meet the demand for high-quality care. For instance, electronic health record integration will carry increasing importance in the next few years, and email communication might become more frequent. This way, patients don’t have to schedule appointments and wait weeks to simply ask their doctors questions.

Greater emphasis on care coordination

A 2010 Practice Fusion survey found that patients see an average of 18.7 physicians in their lifetimes. Because patients visit several medical providers for various health issues, care coordination holds high importance, but the switch to value-based reimbursement makes it even more crucial for patients and health care professionals alike. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the very basis of care coordination involves improving quality and efficiency, but it requires collaboration among all professionals in the patient's health care team. As such, physicians must communicate, be aware of the patient's goals and needs, aid in the care transitions and agree on responsibility.

The progression of value-based care paints a bright future for the health care industry. However, care providers must adjust their practices and prepare for the transition to meet patient expectations.

 

Source:

  • http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/health/doctor-panels-urge-fewer-routine-tests.html?_r=1
  • http://www.hfma.org/Content.aspx?id=1126
  • http://www.choosingwisely.org/doctor-patient-lists/
  • http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/5-healthcare-imperatives-patients-demand-more-personalized-treatment
  • http://bhpr.hrsa.gov/healthworkforce/supplydemand/usworkforce/primarycare/
  • http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/survey-patients-see-187-different-doctors-on-average-92171874.html
  • https://pcmh.ahrq.gov/page/defining-pcmh
  • http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/prevention-chronic-care/improve/coordination/index.html
  • http://www.isc.hbs.edu/health-care/vbhcd/pages/default.aspx
  • http://hitconsultant.net/2015/04/28/12-things-about-value-based-reimbursement/
  • http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20150128/NEWS/301289952
  • http://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Article  |  On: February 09, 2016

How has the ACA shaped Medicare?

Understanding the way the ACA has shaped Medicare is important for medical professionals considering the abundance of patients who use this form of health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act, which President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010, aims to reform the health care industry and give patients more control over their well-being. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the main components of this legislation include accessibility, affordability and quality medical attention.

The ACA has made strides in these areas of health care, especially as it pertains to Medicare. Understanding the way the ACA has shaped this program is important for medical professionals considering the abundance of patients who use this form of health insurance. In fact, according to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare, this government program benefits 52.3 million Americans. Learn more about how the ACA has impacted Medicare:

Physicians are switching to value-based payment

The implementation of the ACA has prompted the switch from the traditional pay-for-service model to value-based care, and Medicare has embraced this reimbursement method. The HHS released a timeline for this process in January 2015, highlighting that 30 percent of the pay-for-service model reimbursements are set to go to a value route like Accountable Care Organizations by the end of 2016. Meanwhile, HHS aims to tie 85 percent of the pay-for-service reimbursements to value through models like Hospital Value Based Purchasing in the same time frame. Both of those percentages are set to increase by the end of 2018.

“Whether you are a patient, a provider, a business, a health plan, or a taxpayer, it is in our common interest to build a health care system that delivers better care, spends health care dollars more wisely and results in healthier people,” said HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell.

Doctors must prepare for this transition by acquainting themselves with value-based payment models, applying business principles and remaining knowledgeable on how they can deliver high-quality care to receive adequate compensation. Essentially, instead of a physician’s salary depending on the number of visits and tests ordered, Medicare will reimburse doctors based on the improvement of patients’ well-being.

Less expensive preventative services and prescription drugs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services explained that many Medicare beneficiaries fall into a coverage gap called the “donut hole.” Essentially, those using the Medicare Prescription Drug Plans may experience this dilemma after exceeding a spending benchmark on prescriptions. In 2016, that amount is $3,310. Through the ACA, CMS beneficiaries of Medicare Part D qualify for a 55-percent discount on brand-name medications when they reach this cap, which helps get them out of the “donut hole.” 

For doctors, this may mean that fewer patients will seek prescription payment assistance programs or depend on generic versions of prescriptions. Additionally, the Center for Advancing Health explained that patients who can’t afford prescriptions may simply forgo their treatment plans, which can put their overall well-being at risk. Physicians may experience more patients who are willing and able to stick to a care plan and, as a result, are more invested in their health.

Patients are seeing discounts in more than just their brand-name prescriptions. The CMS noted that the ACA also made many preventative tests and screenings free for patients. This covers a number of services including mammograms, colonoscopies, cardiovascular disease screening and glaucoma tests, among others. This means doctors may be able to order preventative services without worrying about the high costs for patients. To be sure, it’s important to scrutinize all details of a treatment plan, including price and alternative options, but at least with Medicare’s new pricing strategy, doctors can more readily take steps to protect patient well-being.

Medicare is protected now and in the future

The cost-reduction efforts from the ACA have prolonged the life of Medicare’s trust fund to 2030, according to the Medicare Board of Trustees annual financial review. This time frame extended 13 years beyond the one projected before the implementation of the ACA. The board attributed the slow growth of health care costs to decreases in fraud and overpaying, in addition to other economic savings. Essentially, doctors can expect to see patients with Medicare coverage for years to come.

It’s vital for doctors to stay on top of the latest heath care trends in order to deliver higher quality care while running a successful business.

 

Sources:

  • http://www.hhs.gov/healthcare/facts-and-features/key-features-of-aca-by-year/index.html#
  • http://www.ncpssm.org/Medicare/MedicareFastFacts
  • http://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2015/01/26/better-smarter-healthier-in-historic-announcement-hhs-sets-clear-goals-and-timeline-for-shifting-medicare-reimbursements-from-volume-to-value.html
  • https://www.medicare.gov/about-us/affordable-care-act/affordable-care-act.html
  • http://www.cfah.org/prepared-patient/pay-for-your-health-care/paying-for-prescription-medications
  • https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Prevention/PrevntionGenInfo/
  • http://www.scribd.com/doc/272374231/Medicare-Board-of-Trustees-Annual-Financial-Review
  • http://healthleadersmedia.com/content/HEP-318821/Medicare-Trustees-Funds-Sufficient-Through-2030##
  • http://www.studentdoctor.net/2014/07/how-do-i-get-paid-a-beginners-guide-to-physician-compensation/
  • https://www.cms.gov/apps/files/aca-savings-report-2012.pdf
  • http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/value-based-timeline/
  • https://www.medicare.gov/about-us/affordable-care-act/affordable-care-act.htm
  • http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/aca-healthcare-trends/
  • https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/docs/healthcostreport_final_noembargo_v2.pdf
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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: September 16, 2014

Tuesday Tip - Care Provider Questionnaire

Did you know that CareLike has questionnaires tailored to specific categories of service?

Happy Tuesday, Care Service Providers!  In today’s Tuesday Tip we’re going to dig a bit deeper into your CareLike business profile and the services you provide.  Did you know that CareLike has questionnaires tailored to specific categories of service?  Categories that allow you to provide you more extensive information regarding your services include: Home Health Care, Medical Equipment, Assisted Living, Skilled Nursing, Independent Living, Transportation, and Hospital.  Differentiating your business through these questionnaires is a great way to confirm your business profile is appearing in filtered search results.

To access important details regarding your services, log into your account, click on the “Service Offering” button, and choose your service option(s) by clicking on the radio buttons.  Depending on which service offering(s) you choose, the questionnaire will begin.  Be sure to fill out as much as you can and try not to leave options blank, unless they do not apply to your business.  The questions in the provider questionnaires are important to the users of CareLike.  When caregivers and healthcare professionals are filtering on certain requirements, this information in central to whether or not your business profile is found.

For example, if you are a medical transportation provider (non-emergency and emergency) – be sure you identify the mode of transportation (ground, ambulance, air, etc.), whether or not you are wheelchair friendly, the areas in which you service, and more.  For skilled nursing, the questionnaire prompts you regarding age requirements for your residents, nursing care provided, whether or not personal assistance is offered, behavioral support, diabetic management, and more.  Each category will walk you through the questionnaire to provide the best detail possible to the CareLike database users.

CareLike receives over 400,000+ page views a month, be sure your business is being found!  Differentiating your business by adding the questionnaire details is one way to assure your business profile is appearing in search results.  The CareLike data is licensed by organizations and healthcare professionals using the data at influential times for patients and caregivers.  Don’t miss out on our being found by our audience of professional users!  

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By: Carelike Team  |  Type: Blog  |  On: December 10, 2013

CMS Ratings - Informed Staff Improves Prospective Customer Experience

With so much emphasis on reform in today’s healthcare landscape, the CMS Quality Rating System is becoming increasingly important.

With so much emphasis on reform in today’s healthcare landscape, the CMS Quality Rating System is becoming increasingly important. The rating system has been widely publicized and, as a result, more and more consumers rely on this data during a search for a nursing home facility that can best serve their needs. When comparing facilities using the CMS rating system, a consumer may have questions for the staff about why a rating may be different from a competitor. For every facility, it’s important for staff to be well versed on how ratings are compiled, the rating for the location they work for, and how to answer questions about specific scores.

 

Getting To Know The Rating System

CMS created the Five-Star Quality Rating System as a tool for consumers, families and caregivers to easily compare facilities and identify available levels of care. The ratings cover three categories: health inspections, staffing, and quality measures. These categories deliver three individual ratings  and one overall rating.

 

According to CMS, on a scale of one to five stars, an overall rating of five is considered “much above average quality and nursing.” Although an overall score is provided, it is important to look at ratings for each of the evaluated areas and focus on areas of importance determined by the level of care required. It is also important to remember that facilities are rated for survey and staffing by state, which can vary wildly, so the system should not be used to compare a facility in one state to a facility in another.

 

Below is a brief overview of the components that comprise the Five-Star rating. These points should be used when speaking to residents and families regarding the rating system or an individual facility’s specific rating.

 

The staffing rating offers information about the number of hours of care provided to patients each day. This will vary based on the needs of the patients in the facility and the level of care required.

 

The health inspection rating sheds light on the last three years of on-site inspections. This in-person inspection evaluates to what extent the nursing home has met Medicare’s minimum requirements. The health inspection rating considers the number and the scope and severity of deficiencies.

 

If a consumer is interested in how well a facility is caring for its residents, they will want to know the rating for Quality Measures which has information on different physical and clinical measures such as ADL change, high-risk pressure ulcers, physical restraints and pain.

 

For more detailed information on the CMS Five-Star Quality Rating System, visit cms.gov.

 

When Potential Customers Have Questions About Your Rating

To more effectively interact with potential residents, nursing home staff should know the rating for their location and those of competitors in the area. This information can be found using the Medicare.gov

 Nursing Home Compare Tool. Staff familiar with the ratings of competitors will be more prepared for questions from potential residents.

 

Customers may want to know specifics like, “Why is the health inspection score from 2011 much lower than the following two years?” In situations like this, consider being transparent. Perhaps the score in 2011 prompted an internal assessment that led to much needed changes and reform. Sharing specific details of what was done to resolve the problem will provide the potential resident important insight into how a facility is managed and the priority it places on its residents.

 

For facilities that consistently rate higher than average, CMS ratings can be a badge of honor. The staff should understand how management and leadership ensure consistently high scores, whether through retention of well trained staff, ongoing staff training, or adhering to particular policies. Understanding the infrastructure in place for quality assurance will help families feel comfortable that the high rating can be expected to continue over time.

 

Families want a safe, secure, comfortable, and economical place for their family members to live where they will receive the highest quality care available for their needs. CMS quality ratings are an excellent tool to help choose the best and most affordable facility that will meet the needs of their loved one. If your staff is knowledgeable, the transition can be eased considerably—a win-win comfort level for both your facility and the families involved. 

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