20 Ways to Improve Your Adult Day Center Census

Members | November 18, 2014 | by Peter Notarstefano

Marketing is a key ingredient for operating a successful Adult Day Services program. Answering these 20 questions will help you move forward with developing your marketing plan.

Marketing is a key ingredient for operating a successful Adult Day Services program. Budget and time constraints, the negative stigma of adult day services, and finding ways to market the uniqueness of individual centers are among the biggest obstacles faced by those in charge of marketing adult day programs. 

Answering these twenty questions will help you move forward with developing your marketing plan.

Adult Day: Questions to Ask

  1. Who are the people who would benefit from attending the Adult Day Services program?
  2. What is your catchment area?
  3. Who are your potential referrals?
  4. What services are important for each potential referral source?
  5. What services are provided by your competitors? Do you also offer these services?
  6. Are there services identified by referral sources that your Center or your competition do not offer?
  7. What is your average census?
  8. How has your census changed over the last 5 years?
  9. Do you have a marketing plan?
  10. What are your top 5 referral sources? 
  11. Which referral sources have increased their referrals to your program? Why?
  12. Which referral sources decreased their referrals to your program? Why?
  13. Where are caregivers and potential participants hearing about your Center?
  14. Do you have an individual in charge of marketing?
  15. How much time is spent each week on marketing?
  16. Do you have a website? 
  17. Is your Center active in social media?
  18. How often does your Adult Day Program mentioned in local media?
  19. If your Center is part of a larger organization, such as a hospital, CCRC, Nursing Home, are you receiving referrals from the staff of the other provider types within the parent organization? If not, why?
  20. What percentage of the potential participants that contact you about the program, eventually are enrolled? 

Who are the people who would benefit from attending the Adult Day Services program?  

The answer to this question will help you formulate the answers to the other 19 questions. Are you serving older adults with skilled care needs, older adults who are physically well, but may have dementia and/or depression? 

Are you serving younger individuals with physical or intellectual disabilities? Are you serving individuals from a particular ethnic group? 

Are you serving individuals with a particular disease, such as Parkinsons, MS, Alzheimers and Traumatic brain injury? 

Each of these types of potential participants may have a different entrance point to learn about your adult day center.

What is your catchment area and who are your potential referral sources?  

Where your potential clients reside in relation to the location of your center is important factor concerning transportation reliability and costs. 

Your catchment area helps you determine where you may conduct your outreach campaign. 

You may present on aging and caregiving topics at senior centers, senior housing properties, town halls, places of worship, social club meetings like Rotary and Lions club, hospital discharge planner meetings, physician practices and clinics, Area Agency on Aging, Aging and Disability Resource Centers, Centers for Independent Living, support group meetings, large businesses, local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, departments of Social Services and Adult Protective Services, Congregate Meal programs, United Way and 211 and Eldercare Lawyers.

What services are important for each potential referral source?  

It is helpful to have a different brochure, flyer and talking points for different referral sources. Primary care physicians, Psychiatrists, Geriatricians and other health professionals want your help with ensuring that that patients are compliant with medications and overall plan of care, that they have no re-admissions to the hospital or the emergency room and that the caregiver has less stress. 

It is important to make it easy for a physician and their staff to refer. Have brochures available in their waiting rooms. Print a Adult Day referral pad that could be available for the physician in the office or exam room. 

Caregivers want days and hours of operation and services that will reduce their responsibilities and stress, and enable them to have time for what is important to them. If a caregiver works on the weekend, a center with Saturday hours is a must.

What services are provided by your competitors?  

Your competitors may become your referral source, if they are not caring for a certain population, for example individuals with developmental disabilities or a person that only speaks Korean, and you have no staff or participants that speak Korean, or that the other adult day program is too far away from the participant’s home. 

You may offer a service that your competitor does not offer. 

Your competition may also have services that are more appropriate for a particular potential participant.

What should you monitor throughout the year to have a successful marketing program?  

You should be tracking attendance for the month and compare it to the same month last year, number of referrals each month from each referral source. 

This information will help you know what months of the year you should increase your time marketing, and prioritize which referral sources you need to contact. You should be giving follow-up calls with referral sources. With the consent of the participant, you should highlight any improvements in the participant’s condition that stem from their involvement in your program. 

This follow-up should also occur with the caregiver. They should know that their loved one who is depressed and withdrawn was engaged in a recreational activity, and has developed friendships with other participants. This feedback can result in increases in the number of days the individual attends.

Do you have an individual in charge of marketing and how much time is spent each week on marketing? 

The answer to this question depends on your budget, and if you are part of a larger organization. Everyone in your organization should be involved in your marketing plan, but it is important for one individual to be responsible for the overall implementation of the plan. 

Marketing should be discussed at each staff meeting. If you cannot afford a part time or full time marketing director, perhaps a retired business professional may be interested in volunteering their time to assist you in implementing the marketing plan.

Your website is the face of your program! 

There are so many times that websites for adult day programs don’t include the location of the program, the special services offered in the program and who would benefit from services in the adult day program. Many times the adult day program that is part of a larger organization is difficult to find on the parent organization website and they don’t have their own website. 

The new generation of older adult and caregivers use the internet as their main source of information. A poorly designed website will impact the success of your marketing. 

A video of your program that is on the website, as well as on YouTube can also help you show the value of your program. 

Media as a marketing tool for your program  

Paid advertisement many times is not an effective way to market your adult day program. The article in the local paper about your new Memory Enhancement Program for individuals with dementia may result in more referrals, and it is FREE! 

Perhaps you can recruit college journalism students to write articles to submit to the local newspaper. 

Also, holding support group meetings and health fairs in the adult day center are effective ways of having potential participants and their caregivers see your center. 

One LeadingAge Adult Day member has a radio show on caregiving. Social media today is an important driver for marketing services. 

Marketing firm GlynnDevins  has a useful article on 15 Tips for Social Media that will help you develop an effective social media plan. 

Also, it is important to have a Facebook page. A volunteer could be recruited to help you increase your Centers online activity. 

If a caregiver “Googles” adult day centers in a particular area, you should be on the top of the search list. Have a monthly or quarterly Adult Day Center newsletter that could be a source for newspaper articles, and could be given out at community events.

LeadingAge adult day members should join the marketing listserv and participate in the adult day listserv to obtain additional information from other adult day members on improving their marketing efforts.