Specialized CareAs more and more of the country’s baby boomer population ages, there will be an increased number of people who will suffer from ailments as they grow older. This can put a significant strain on your facility to provide acute and chronic care. This increased patient load means not only will you need to invest in new treatment and diagnostic technology, but also in specialized-care units and the staff required to operate these departments.

The aging ailments cover a wide range but there is one area where healthcare facilities are already seeing an increased demand: Alzheimer’s and other dementia diseases care. Even now the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America estimates the number of individuals in the country suffering from the disease to be at 5.1 million. Estimates put the number of people who will be living with the disease by 2050 at 13.5 million.

This is just one example of the increased demand on the healthcare system. From a healthcare facility’s standpoint, it means your current and future patients are going to need specialized care. Is your facility equipped to handle their care? If your facility isn’t currently equipped for specialized care, you will probably be considering options to meet this growing need.  This may entail the rehab of existing facilities or the construction of new facilities to meet this growing demand.

Is your facility ready? Some things to consider:

Even if your facility has specialized-care units already, you will still need to make updates due to increased demand and regulations. Making facility planning decisions is no easy feat! There are many issues to consider when creating the necessary facility expansions and decisions as they can span several years. Before you decide to break out the construction tape and blueprints, here are some points to consider:

Define clear objectives for expanding your facility as a specialized care unit. Carefully weigh the pros and cons, including any trade-offs regarding the expansion and projected value.

Be sure to outline known issues with building or expanding a specialized care unit.  These may include planning issues like the following:

  • Overhauling and renovating current facilities? Or building new buildings?
  • Does the cost to build a specialized unit outweigh the projected long-term value?
  • Does the projected unit account for diagnostic and treatment technologies long-term?
  • What staffing changes will be required short-term and long-term with the new unit?
  • Will the creation of a new unit displace any patients, or staff from performing their duties at any point in time?

Be sure to elicit input from your board or facility’s team to understand the big-picture impact on the facility. Each department will have a unique view and concerns about the expansion, so this is an important step to ensuring all voices are heard.

After you have received input from the appropriate parties, be sure to evaluate their opinions from a neutral standpoint.  Identify the key differences between their opinions, weighing their concerns against the objective values for the short and long -term.

This list is not extensive but merely a few things to keep in mind in the planning stages for a specialized car unit.  Once you have considered the big picture, you will be able to evaluate if the decision to build or renovate for a specialized care unit is the right choice for your facility.

Have you expanded your facility’s services to include memory care? If so, how did the transition go? What were you able to do in the renovation of your facility and what did you need to create from the ground up?

Don’t forget to bookmark the Snelling Medical Blog. Next week we’ll discuss “Medical Staffing Trends of 2013.” If you have any questions, just drop us a line.

NOTE:  A full color, downloadable PDF is available. 

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