Building Census through Specialized Services

As hospital volumes, and the type of hospital admissions (including elective surgeries) return to normal, referrals to SNF’s continue to lag below their pre-pandemic levels. At the same time Home Health referrals remain well above their pre pandemic levels. The patients that SNF’s are now seeing referred to them are typically those with higher complexities that are unable to be managed in an in home setting. SNF’s will need to be prepared to care for these more complex patients or risk being left with decreasing referrals and census.

One complexity that has arisen from the pandemic is patients with mental health disorders. SNF’s have been getting more of these referrals and some SNF’s who did not typically have this population in their facilities have increased their behavioral health services, not only to meet the needs of these new referrals, but to treat their already existing long term residents who are dealing with the isolating effects of the pandemic. SNF’s have prepared for these patients by contracting with mental health professionals (Psychiatrist/Psychologists) for more regular services as well as Social Services increasing their efforts to make sure patient mental health needs are being met. When SNF’s are prepared to treat these patients, giving them the appropriate care they need, they will be in a better position to treat their own residents and be prepared to accept more referrals. This preparedness will lead to gaining the trust and confidence of referral sources by showing that your facility is equipped to care for these patients which, in turn, may lead to increased referrals.

If your SNF is interested in addressing the needs for SNF placement for this complexity the following are questions you would want to ask:

  1. Do we currently have access to the proper mental health professionals?
  2. Would it be best for our facility to contract with mental health professionals who would come into the facility or would we be better served with telehealth services? (This may depend on your patent needs, location, mental health professionals’ opinion).
  3. What additional training do our everyday staff members need to best care for these patients?

SNF’s are also seeing a rise in patients with pulmonary issues. Many SNF’s have either hired or contracted with respiratory therapists to be in their facilities on a daily basis to care for the needs of these patients. Whether it is patients who are having pulmonary issues related to previous COVID-19 infections or if their SNF has a trach/vent unit, having a respiratory therapist on site and being able to care for these patients is giving SNF’s the ability to accept these more complex patients and give great care while also improving their census.

If your SNF is interested in addressing the needs for SNF placement for this complexity the following are questions you would want to ask:

  1. Do our referrals sources have a need for facilities that have a trach/vent unit and can we meet that need? What would we need to do, if unable now?
  2. Do we need a respiratory therapist on site daily to meet our patient needs? If so, would we be best served to hire the respiratory therapist directly or would we contract these services?
  3. What additional training does our current staff need to care for patients with pulmonary issues?

These are just two examples of patients with increased complexity being referred to SNFs and ways some SNF’s have prepared to be able to accept these admissions and care for these patients. Becoming knowledgeable about the needs of your referral sources, and even the needs of those that weren’t typical referral sources in the past but can be, and adding additional resources and/or training to meet those needs, will be a key in keeping census up in your SNF.