As an attorney, much of your business is based on the relationships you forge with other businesses and services in the elder care community. One of the best and most important relationships an elder law attorney can have to help them market and grow their practice is with their local nursing homes and long-term care community.
Just as in every other area of your business, doing this requires a process in place. Specifically, you need to develop a process that allows you to build and maintain a relationship with these facilities.
If you are not already familiar with the nursing homes in your community you will need to first identify what they are. An Internet search using your state resources can help you find the people you need to reach out to in order to begin establishing these relationships.
You can start by using the nursing home comparison tool available via Medicare.gov to locate all of the nursing homes in your area. Searches can be conducted by zip code, and you can also compare the quality ratings of the nursing homes in your area using this tool. From there you can find the nursing homes you’d like to target and get specific information on the appropriate contacts, such as administrators, and financial and social services liaisons.
The most important thing to consider when establishing these relationships is how you will build trust. The best way to do this is by demonstrating to the community that you know your stuff. While you don’t necessarily need to specialize in every area of elder law, you do need to have knowledge of those things that are most pertinent to those people in your community that are in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, namely Medicaid.
The managers of these facilities will know a good deal about Medicaid eligibility and other issues impacting this community so you will need a baseline of expertise. This will include having a process for Medicaid applications.
Getting in the door
Once you’ve determined the nursing homes you want to target in your community, you will need to have a strategy for getting in the door. You can begin by calling each of them, making introductions, and letting them know that you serve a clientele that is always looking for referrals to good nursing homes. Then tell them that you would be interested in touring their communities.
An in-person meeting will give you the opportunity to collect information about the facilities and the services they provide so that you can refers clients to those that will be the best fit. You can also determine their processes for qualifying residents for Medicaid, how long it takes, and whether or not they’ve worked with attorneys on Medicaid cases in the past.
Whether during the same meeting or by scheduling a follow-up meeting you will want to have a conversation about your firm, its specific processes, and how it can drive results to provide value in a potential relationship. You can also highlight your value as a resource by keeping the nursing home community involved and informed on the issues impacting them.
One of the resources you can provide to them right off the bat is an eligibility form they can fill out or have a resident’s family fill out. Guarantee them that your firm will turn this around within 48 hours in order to help them identify any eligibility problems. Then highlight that you have solutions to those problems if necessary. Make sure they understand your firm’s process from the initial client intake on.
It’s important to highlight the benefits of establishing a relationship with your firm to each nursing home you meet with. Talk about the ability to generate a consistent cash flow, and how your services can help them reduce the time their staff spends on these details that you can manage for them.
Once you’ve established a relationship, it’s your responsibility to deliver on the promises you’ve made. This is how you will establish ongoing trust to maintain these important relationships. You can do this by handling all planning and applications properly and maintaining open communication with the nursing home throughout the entire process. Consider appointing someone within your firm to do a bi-weekly or monthly check-in to stay connected with the administration and allow an opportunity to address any questions or issues that may arise.
Why These Relationships Matter
When it comes to the nursing home community, there is a definite need for elder law services, but most of these organizations don’t realize it. Therefore, it’s up to you to communicate to them the importance of this mutually beneficial relationship.
For your firm, the value is great. Consider this: If you were to build relationships with 10 nursing homes in your community from which you could generate even just one referral from each every year at an average of $8,000 or more, that would amount to significant additional income for your firm of approximately $80,000 per year.
The value of these relationships is easy to see, and easy to prove once you have a foot in the door. Show your long-term care community partners that you have expertise and concern for serving their clients and helping them meet their needs.
For more on this topic, watch the recorded course "Building Relationships with Nursing Homes."