Emeritus Strategic Plan
Strategic Implementation Plan at Emeritus Senior Living
In one regard, the senior assisted living community sector is one of the most stable and fastest growing industries in an otherwise stagnant domestic marketplace. This is to the advantage of the firm that has been at the center of our research discussions to this juncture. But for Emeritus Senior Living firm, this advantage is today being offset by a number of internal performance patterns that must be addressed. Indeed, the model for growth at Emeritus has to this point been extraordinarily successful from a sheer economic standpoint. According to Emeritus (EMS), “at the end of 2000, Emeritus was a small senior living company with an operating portfolio of 135 communities and a capacity for 14,100 residents. Ten years later (December 31, 2010), we are one of the largest operators of senior living facilities in the country with an operating portfolio of 479 communities and a capacity for 49,700 residents. Truly, this has been a decade of transformation for Emeritus.” (EMS, p. 1) However, as the implementation plan hereafter will show, there also is a need to reverse a number of trends which have emerged over the course of this decade of growth. Among them, issues of quality control and economic performance per facility are imperative to address.
Though Emeritus has thrived by opening or acquiring 479 facilities to date, it has reported net operational losses for a sustained period of time now, to an extent that calls for an adjustment in approach and orientation. According to Traecy, the company lost $104.8 million in 2008, $53.9 million in 2009 and $57 million in 2010. This is a pattern that intended to be repaired by the implementation plan proposed and outlined here. The implementation plan is predicated on several key steps that should shift the focus of the company from growth to product refinement. Accordingly, the implementation plan calls for three primary steps: the closure of underperforming facilities; the tactical improvement of existing facilities; and the rehabilitation of the Emeritus product and service image.
Indeed, before Emeritus can resume the types of growth activities that have made it thusly dominant and pointedly expansive over the last decade, it must now focus on matters of quality control. Therefore, the most important objective driving the proposed implementation plan is to engage in what might be termed a ‘correction’ in the size of the company. Its approach of creating myriad economies of scale has produced a greater flexibility for the company as it has expanded. But this has simultaneously reduced the centralized control and the measure of consistency that will ultimately distinguish Emeritus positively in a sector where reputation is tantamount to success. This objective is tremendously important for Emeritus, which has recently absorbed a number of blows to its reputation that directly reflect the critical importance of regaining its central mechanisms for control.
According to Villarreal (2011), Emeritus was just recently struck with an extremely negative quality and compliance review. Villarreal indicates that “according to the Bureau of Health Care Quality and Compliance, a recent investigation gives ‘Emeritus at Las Vegas’ a rare ‘D’ rating. That’s the bureau’s worst rating without shutting a facility down. Their report details startling infractions including caregivers ignoring the calls for help from one woman lying on her side on the bathroom floor in her own feces. The facility reportedly failed to ensure 30 of the 96 residents received medications as prescribed, and 13 of the residents did not have one or more medications available for at least four days.” (Villarreal, p. 1)
Beyond a reasonable doubt, the core objective driving the implementation plan is the need to ensure that no such infractions ever occur again. While the firm has issued a public apology and pledged to correct such matters, this is directly reflective of the need to reverse its current growth patterns and shift its focus to internal regulation and better quality control.
The functional tactics that will enter into this transformation will center first on an approach of strategic retraction. This will call for a concentrated investigation of the performance at each of the company’s facilities, both in the dimensions of service quality and financial performance. From here, judicious decisions will need to be made about which facilities are to be sold off and which are to be the recipients of more dedicated attention and resource allocation.
Following the steps relating to downsizing the company, functional tactics will center on the improvement of quality within facilities. There is a distinct demand placed upon the company to impose a strong central set of controls that descends from leadership and is manifested in all hiring, recruitment, training and scheduling practices. The company must work to improve the conditions within all of its facilities by creating a set of uniform expectations and by engaging in its own highly stringent and regularly scheduled corporation evaluation of individual facilities.
The final functional tactic will center on the repair of the company’s reputation through active promotion to the public and to the industry regarding the measures taken to improve itself as well as engagement in positive activities directed at senior demographics. For instance, PRWeb (2011) reports that in December of 2011, “employees at Emeritus Senior Living’s 485 communities showed their commitment to seniors by holding hundreds of fundraisers across the nation to support the 2011 Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Funds raised total $404,602 — exceeding last year’s total by more than $130,000 — to help build Alzheimer’s awareness and fund care, support and research.” (PRWeb, p. 1) This is a good example of the kinds of activities in which Emeritus must involve itself if it is to improve its image and standing in its sector.
Action Items/Milestones and Deadline:
Essential action items are divided into the three phases of the projected implementation plan, with the phases being simply identified as downsizing, quality control and public image management.
Downsizing: (Duration of 3 years)
Evaluation of facilities (6 months)
Sale of Underperforming Facilities (1.5 years)
Needs Evaluation of Remaining Facilities (1 year)
Personnel Performance Evaluation (6 months)
Recruitment campaign (ongoing)
Overhaul of training (1 month training per employee)
Public Image Management:
Promotion of Transformation (ongoing)
Participation in Positive Community Events (ongoing)
Transparency in Ongoing Evaluations (ongoing)
Tasks and Task Ownership:
At the outset, most tasks will be placed into the hands of executive leadership and outside consultancy. As to the former of these, it is essential for executive leadership to participate in the sale of facilities. However, task ownership during this phase will be best served by a personnel solutions firm with a specialization in downsizing. It will be necessary for an objective third party agency to make determinations that will ultimately help to identify those facilities that are underperforming, those that should remain under Emeritus ownership with extensive improvements and the needs that must be addressed in each individual facility.
Additional tasks relating to quality control will fall upon central leadership and management, who must forge a network of relationships through which consistency of standards and practices is achieved. As this concerns the notion of task ownership, it is absolutely essential that nurse leaders and other administrative figures working in the individual facilities and locations distributed throughout the country have achieved solidarity on the improvements being brought to the firm. The management core will be an absolutely necessary advocate for efforts aimed at strengthening the firms regulatory control over its individual facilities.
Resource allocation will be largely dedicated to the second and third of three phases. Indeed, beyond the costs of outside consultancy, the first phase should result in a net gain in operations finances for Emeritus. This greater fluidity should then be used to help generate the improvements in facilities, personnel and evaluation mechanisms that must ultimately be implemented. Additionally, funding for an improved Human Resources and training instruction team at each facility will help to bring more permanent in-house solutions to the implementation process.
Resources should also be dedicated to both the engagement and promotion of activities aimed at heightening the positive presence of Emeritus in the communities that it serves. This means that some capital should be invested in the hiring of a Public Relations or Marketing firm with experience in repairing a tarnished public image. For Emeritus, it will not be enough simply to make these changes. Because many of these changes will depend significantly on the ability of the firm to remain profitable, these changes must be made known to a public wary of crooked or abusive senior assisted living communities. Additionally, resources will be dedicated to a continuous process of evaluation by which in-house quality inspectors closely and regularly monitor facilities with the intent of eliminating infractions.
The success of this implementation plan will hinge very much upon the commitment of personnel to changes. Indeed, personnel at the individual facilties will have to make the rhetoric of positive change a reality. Therefore, it is necessary for this implementation process to be highly employee-centered. As the plan laid out here above demonstrates, once the difficult decisions relating to corporate downsizing have been made, the success of change at Emeritus will depend a great deal on the company’s ability to motivate change and improvement in its personnel as well.
Eastday. (2011). Foreign Firms Moving Into Senior Care. English.eastday.com.
Emeritus Senior Living (ESL). (2010). 2010 Annual Report. Emeritus Corporation.
PRWeb. (2011). Emeritus Senior Living Employees Raise More Than $400,000 for the Alzheimer’s Association. Yahoo! News.
Traecy, M. (1992). Customer Intimacy. Harvard University.
Villarreal, M. (2011). Senior Care Facility Apologizes After Being Slapped With D. Rating. KTNV.com.