Winter weather is a marketing opportunity

Winter weather is nasty, but all that cold, snow, ice, rain and storms can result in marketing opportunities for long-term care providers. 

First there’s the obvious opportunity: The weather may bring new customers to your doors. Slips and falls can result in fractures and other injuries, which drive up the demand for care and services.  An elderly person who was independent before is now faced with the recovery from an injury requiring short-term rehabilitation or home health care.  He or she also may have challenges that threaten long-term independence (resulting in the need for assisted living, independent living or adult day healthcare).  Respiratory illnesses can be challenging in the winter, and so can the influenza season, which was particularly difficult this year.  The American Heart Association warns that elderly individuals with coronary heart disease can suffer chest pain due to cold temperatures, and that the risk for a heart attack is high in the winter due to overexertion.

The second marketing opportunity results from the impact that winter weather has on the independence of an elderly individual.  Bad weather creates challenges for all of us, but  the impact is much more dramatic on individuals with physical or cognitive challenges.  Here’s just a short list of the potential issues that could result from even mild to moderate winter weather:

  • Families can’t get to their elderly loved ones in a timely way to provide them with assistance.
  • Paid caregivers have trouble getting to their elderly clients.
  • Medication can’t be delivered on time or at all.
  • Meal delivery services (such as Meals on wheels) may not be able to deliver food.  
  • Weather creates additional home maintenance work and expenses for family caregivers.
  • Doctor’s visits and other medical appointments must be rescheduled, putting additional burden on family.
  • Isolation, even for a short period of time, can result in depression and anxiety for the elderly, exacerbating chronic and acute illness. 
  • Twenty percent of deaths from exposure to cold occur in the home. Half of those who die from the cold are age 60+  (according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration fact sheet.)

You have an excellent opportunity to incorporate the bad winter weather into your marketing with the following strategies:

  1. Create advertising that highlights the risks associated with winter weather on the elderly.
  2. Incorporate the risks of winter weather into your presentations to referral sources and other professionals.
  3. Discuss the risks of winter weather with families during tours, hospital or home visits as they are making healthcare decisions.

Target prospective residents and clients who have inquired but not committed to choose you to meet their needs with the following approach:

Call to inquire how they or their loved one fared during the most recent bad weather:  “Hi Mrs. Smith, this is Luke Fannon from ABC Health Care.  I wanted to reach out to you to see how you and your mom did with the most recent snow storm.”

Educate the family on how their issues with their loved one would have been prevented through your services:  “The challenges you faced during the storm, not being able to get meals and medication to your mom, her fear of being alone and your anxiety are all issues that we can help you with.  We protect our residents during bad weather by insuring that staff stay to provide care and get their meals. When bad weather approaches we typically order additional medication as a precaution to ensure that our residents always have their medication.”

Discuss how your residents/clients fared during the storm.  “Our residents enjoyed the snow from the comfort and safety of our facility/community.  Many of our families called to check in on their family members letting us know they wouldn’t be able to visit.  It can be during situations like this that families experience the peace of mind that comes from admitting their loved one to our facility/community.”

Winter weather negatively affects people's perception of their independence, but innovative long-term care facilities will see marketing opportunities in the services they can offer to reduce the risks and burdens that weather can bring.

Topics: Executive Leadership , Facility management , Finance , Leadership , Risk Management , Staffing