It may seem relatively trivial at first. Somebody forgets to get a signature on a document. A document goes missing. You may be confident that every effort will be made to secure that signature and locate that document.

But who will take responsibility? Do you know? And when will they find time to do so? Will they get it right?

The truth is that missing, unsigned and poorly executed admissions documents can have a lasting and sometimes devastating effect on a senior living community.

At LincWare, we know this because we have heard the horror stories. Stories of thousands of dollars left on the table because the resident’s family never signed the document that identified additional services as “billable.” Or the story about the resident who, overwhelmed by the number of documents that needed signing, decided to “wait awhile” and, in the meantime, was lured away by a competitor with an easier admissions process.

Between the verbal “yes” and the residency agreement, things can, and do, go wrong.

Your admissions process is critical. It represents the first comprehensive transaction that occurs between your community team and your new resident.

Of course, it can be a very stressful time as the family prepares the loved one for admission. It also can be a stressful time for your sales team, as members shift gears from sales to administrators, working their way through hundreds of documents, sorting and sending many off for signature.

It is this period of time, between the verbal “yes” and the signing of the residency agreement, when things often go wrong. Here are some of the top challenges and risks we have identified through our surveys and consultations with clients:

  • Not keeping documents organized, leading to misplaced, misfiled documents. Communities have reported missing POAs (powers of attorney), missing care details and other key documents, leaving a gap that can result in services performed and never billed for as well as more serious legal consequences. One of our clients told us recently that the community was losing an estimated $3,000 per month, waiving 30-day notices on charges. Why? Because the residency agreements never were signed.

  • Dealing with an overwhelming number of signatures required. Asking a resident and family to sign dozens of forms causes frustration as well as confusion. We have heard of new residents putting the whole process on hold due to all the signatures required, leaving stacks of forms sitting uncompleted. In some cases, the move-in was lost altogether to a competitor who stepped in and quickly sealed the deal through a faster, more efficient admissions easier process.

  • Not keeping track of version updates and differing state forms. Communities who do not complete key state-mandated forms run the risk of being non-compliant. Often, an audit is the first time they realize they are lacking an important state-specific document.

  • Confusion as to who is in charge. Such confusion can lead to gaps in collecting and executing key documents as your team members point fingers at each other. In the meantime, morale sinks and little gets done. The risk is higher turnover and a black mark on your record as an employer.

Fortunately, technology now allows us not only to centralize all documents, but to track each step and assign responsibility accordingly. A digital admissions platform such as Admit+ ensures that all documents are included, eliminating process gaps that ultimately an cost a community thousands of dollars in uncollected service fees or, worse yet, lawsuits.

The next article in this series will cover the hidden cost of admissions. Significant overhead is involved in the admissions process. I will share ways that senior living operators can streamline processes and make better use of their valuable staff. Stay tuned!