Top Senior Care Hurdles for 2020 and Aromatherapy’s Role as Savior

When your very existence entails disrupting the eldercare sector with fresh solutions to age-old problems, naturally you pay attention to the skuttlebutt.

According to senior care think-tanks and the latest research publications, long-term care and assisted living companies are facing several large hurdles as they head in to 2020. From workforce shortages and new regulations to market saturation and a demand for more person focused, tailored care - the need to evolve and adopt new ways of doing business is stronger than ever. 

As we know, challenge always brings with it great opportunity. This is where I come in. Sure, I am partial. Aromatherapy is what I do. However, experience is the best teacher and I have seen first-hand how aromatherapy can make a strong positive impact on an organization and help to solve some of these problems.

Hurdle #1: Workforce Shortage

Senior care executives report that workforce shortages continue to grow into 2020. Attracting, engaging and retaining employees is challenging. It’s difficult to grow a company and provide the best care when you’re short-staffed and/or experiencing constant turnover.

  1. Aromatherapy makes people happy. It's stress relieving, helps with focus and generally improves mood. Happy people like their jobs and stay at their jobs. And, when an employer incorporates aromatherapy into the culture it is one way of saying: "We care about our employees."
  2.  Aromatherapy makes residents happy. Happy residents are easier to care for, thus making caregiver's jobs easier also. Many job seekers know this and would prefer to work for an organization doing everything they can to make work life easier.
  3. Innovations in aromatherapy make it easy to employ and can create serene environments even when staffing is a problem. They also make staffing problems easier to manage. When understaffed, aromatherapy can help take the edge off stressful days.
  4. Aromatherapy is already widely embraced around the world and many people use it in their personal life. It is accepted and loved by all age groups and cultures – making a community that uses it an attractive place to work. It smells good and it's good for you and many young people coming into the workforce already know that!

Hurdle #2: New Regulations

If you’re in skilled-nursing then you’re no stranger to the new Federal Regulations for Long-Term Care Facilities that was to be fully implemented by the end of 2019. The growing issue of opiate and anti-psychotic overuse has finally come full circle.  This law requires SNF’s to adopt non-pharmacological interventions to manage behaviors and pain.

  1. Aromatherapy is an evidence-based, gentle and effective non-pharmacological intervention. There is an abundance of research supporting the use of essential oils to influence mood and behavior and to manage pain.
  2. Aromatherapy is hands down one of the most successful non-pharmaceutical interventions. It has a strong safety record and is fast acting, often faster than common PRN medications. It is even more effective when used in tandem with other non-pharm options to manage behavior and pain.
  3. Essential oils and their safety and efficacy are well-supported by the medical literature. With the proper training and tools, companies can easily incorporate this non-pharm option into their standard of care and meet the requirements of the new regulations.

Hurdle #3: The Demand for Person-Centered and Customized Care is Growing

This isn’t really a hurdle. It’s a given or at least it should be. It also happens to be part of the new Federal Regulations, too. Skilled nursing facilities must have a plan for how they provide person-centered care. The model of what it means to give care is changing. Families have different expectations. Senior care must adopt to ways of doing what they do. Gone are the days of the one-sized fits all approach. Now we have a demand for something more holistic and nurturing and it will continue to grow as new populations age and become new customers.

  1. Again, aromatherapy makes people happy. It also improves their health. It is natural, holistic, and nurturing creating peaceful settings, enhancing activities and even evoking memories through the sense of smell. The effects of aromatherapy enhance the quality of life for the person and the caregiver.
  2. Residents often do not get into nature as much as they should. Essential oils are derived from nature. Their value lies in the experience they bring with them, delivering natural elements through the most powerful of the senses to those that need it most.
  3. Aromatherapy supports body, mind and spirit during illness and end of life. It often is administered topically, bringing the crucial but often lacking element of touch into a resident's day.
  4. It’s easy to both deliver aromatherapy to groups and customize to individuals based on need (ie: lavender for sleep or an uplifting blend for fatigue). Combining aromatherapy with other non-pharm options such as other sensory activities, music therapy, massage therapy, etc. creates gentle, effective, customized care. This is the epitome of "person centered care."

Hurdle #4 – Market Saturation Is A Reality

It doesn’t take much to notice new senior care facilities going up all around us. This creates a two-fold issue. First, there is the obvious: a lot of competition. The need to set one's company apart is more apparent now than ever. But this saturation also begs older developments to renovate and get the proverbial face-lift if they want to continue to play the field.

  1. Aromatherapy makes a powerful impact on families. The sense of smell is so closely tied to our limbic system - responsible for our emotions, mood, sense of pleasure and more. When families walk into the lobby and immediately feel calm and comfortable, they also leave feeling a sense of security - something invaluable when placing a loved-one in someone else's care.
  2. Going the extra mile to provide aromatherapy as part of daily care also sends a powerful message. It says “We Care.” When families see the person centered care in action, they know their loved-one isn't going to spend their days over-medicated but rather, gently nurtured with dignity and respect.
  3. Aromatherapy, unlike other elements to the "face lift" often required by older structures, is low risk. It's affordable and easy to implement. It quite often helps improves the bottom line because it makes an organization an attractive place to work and to send a family member. The less turnover and empty beds, the better, right? Considering the CapEx required to improve older structures and the time it takes to complete these projects, aromatherapy is a good immediate investment. Whether your facility is new or has been around for decades, aromatherapy is a no-brainer to improve your market position.          .             

You see. Aromatherapy really is a savior. Each major hurdle knocked down, one-by-one. Almost a slam dunk, wouldn’t you say?

Okay, so it probably won’t solve all your problems. But I have seen it successfully address these issues with my own eyes. Aromatherapy can definitely make a major impact and all the while make the journey a pleasant and healthy one.

If you’d like to learn more about our amazing aromatic solutions for assisted living, skilled nursing, memory care, and more, please give feel free to reach out.

In Health,

Jessica Wiehle

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