The Great Care Debate - Your Guide to Care Home PR

Do you know any bed blockers? Chances are, you do, and you may not even realise it. The reason I’m so sure is that my Nan is currently a bed-blocker, and it took me a while to spot the problem.

She’s been in hospital since the beginning of October last year with a number of problems that culminate to mean she’s old and is struggling to look after herself at home alone. According to recent figures, she’s costing the struggling NHS £250 a day because it’s not safe for her to go home without help. She’s 84.

With the news that one in three babies born now will live until they’re 100 years old and the impressive people showcased as part of BBC Breakfast’s #LivingLonger hashtag on social media it’s about time we dug our heads out of the sand when it comes to older life care.

Mention the idea of a care home or supported living and my Nan puts her fingers in her ears and reverts back to a toddler-like state of ‘I’m not listening’. But what problem was ever solved by avoiding it?

Care homes have suffered their fair share of bad PR – but we as a nation must also accept that we fail to prepare for our care in older life, preferring to assume it will, somehow, all be alright and the Nanny State will help us because it has to.

This lack of interest in our own wellbeing is one that needs to be readdressed and we need to stop thinking of care homes as a place to be forgotten about and where older people are ‘put’ in a way that can feel to them as an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ solution, rather than something that’s in their best interests.

Care homes too can use the comms mix to raise their own profile locally and within the industry. Here’s our tips for marketing your care home in 2015:

  1. Who are you talking to? Prospective short and/or long-term residents? The family of prospective residents? What about potential quality employees? Always have this at the front of your mind for any activity.
  2. Take a proactive approach. Consider a pack to encourage people nearing retirement age to think about where they would like to be in 10 or 20 years’ time, as a useful education tool.
  3. Use good photography on your website and literature. You’re offering someone a new home. Make it welcoming, friendly and ensure your pictures paint the right 1,000 words.
  4. Your residents are your biggest advocate. Ask them to be case studies on your website or if they reach a milestone birthday suggest inviting the local paper to take a picture. Don’t forget relatives of happy residents can also be used as testimonials.
  5. Don’t be afraid of social media. Use it to interact with others in your industry as an information and recruitment tool and to reach people who are considering a care home for a family member.

It’s too late to change my Nan’s opinion, but it’s not too late to reach future centenarians and change their distorted view of care homes and care provision for the elderly.