It takes 27 seconds to make a first impression.[i] How is your facility fostering a positive impression as visitors enter the property, open your front door and wait in the lobby before a tour? The front entrance and lobby should be one of the most appealing areas of the nursing home to reflect the consistent care, comfort, and cleanliness that can be expected throughout the building.
Tips for Impression Focused Tours
Practice Punctuality. Do not keep potential customers waiting excessively in the lobby. Customers should feel confident that your staff is prompt and respectful of their time and needs. Time spent waiting for the tour to begin may lead them to wonder how long their loved one will wait for a response to their call light.
Communicate to staff the time of scheduled tour appointments. Have a known alert to staff when a tour is being completed such as a designated colored clipboard in hand. Consider having a designated tour route that includes viewing both a private & semi-private room and common areas.
Demonstrate Professionalism and Person-Centered Care. Allow for flexibility with times of tours, including options for touring in the evening and weekends. Allow for drop in tours and have trained back-up staff if the primary tour guide such as admissions or social services is off. The tour guide should be personable, professional and trained in customer service and marketing skills. Also, the guide should be able to answer questions on topics from pre-admission to discharge including requirements and tasks for admission, have general knowledge of insurance benefits–particularly Medicare and Medicaid benefits, be well-versed in services the facility offers, COVID-19 and infection prevention programming, and daily care routines of the residents.
Inquire about the potential resident’s and customer’s preferences so that the tour can be catered to the individual’s needs and interests. Know what your facility does well and highlight those positive aspects of the facility such as quality measures, survey inspections, activities and outings offered and other unique services and amenities that set your facility apart from others in the community.
During the tour, staff should interact pleasantly with residents. The tour should include pointing out activities that are underway and the tour guide should pleasantly acknowledge residents and staff members while walking through the facility. If a resident is calling out for assistance, the tour guide or the other staff members should address them and not ignore their needs. The attitude and actions of staff during the brief snapshot of the tour, contributes to the perception of the facility’s quality of care.
Focus on Sensory Information. Emphasize what is charming and home-like in your facility while addressing the foundational elements of creating a pleasing place to be—welcoming seating with pleasant views, well-lit tidy spaces, pretty décor, enjoyable outdoor space where family can envision visiting with their loved one, and of course, the sounds and smells of a healthy, comfortable environment. Control odors by eliminating the source of odors such as assuring incontinent care and/or linen changes are provided promptly and utilize odor-control products for those odors that cannot be fully eliminated by cleaning. Consider the noise level throughout the building with regular attention to systems for reducing call lights sounding, minimizing overhead pages, and maintaining speaking voices at a conversational level.
If an in-person tour is not possible, virtual tours can bridge the gap by promoting the best features and amenities that the facility has to offer with introductions to a representative team of staff. Ensure the snapshots or video included in the virtual tour are of good quality, and the website is easily accessible and user-friendly.
Nursing home placement can be a difficult choice. Overall, future residents and families need to feel informed, comfortable and satisfied when making an admission decision. An effective tour can create a positive first impression and reflect that your facility is the best choice.
[i] Schmall, Tyler, (2018, Dec.) It takes 27 seconds to make a good first impression (nypost.com)