Shamim Wu

It may seem counterintuitive, but Shamim Wu, president and chief operating officer of memory care provider Silverado, says that one way the company manages expenses is by having staffing levels that are higher than the industry average.

Whereas staffing levels at assisted living communities average 0.9 full-time equivalent per resident — or 0.75 when independent living is included — Silverado maintains an average of 1.05 to 1.1 FTE per resident, she told those attending a session at the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care’s fall conference.

The strategy saves the company millions annually in reduced workers’ compensation and professional liability claims, Wu said, and has afforded Silverado the opportunity to be self-insured. Further, she added, it has created an engaged workforce.

Whereas operators might be tempted to cut staffing when occupancy is down, that strategy is a “race to the bottom line for revenue,” Wu said, because prospective residents and their family members who tour a community will see staff members who aren’t engaged, a lack of activities for residents and food of poor quality.

Silverado’s approach, she said, had led the company to outpace the industry average as far as occupancy, based on NIC data.

The company, according to its website, has 32 memory care communities in eight states and one skilled nursing and rehabilitation center in Utah, and it also offers home healthcare in California and Texas as well as hospice care in California, Texas and Utah.