3 Ways to Use Data from the LeadingAge Member Survey

Members | April 03, 2019 | by Geralyn Magan

LeadingAge will launch its Biennial Member Survey on June 6, 2019. Elissa Sherman, president of LeadingAge Massachusetts, expects to use the data to carry out better advocacy, get a better picture of trends in the field, and design better programs and services for members.

Elissa Sherman, president of LeadingAge Massachusetts, has been working with 8 other state executives for about a year to help LeadingAge plan the LeadingAge Biennial Member Survey, which will launch on June 6.

Now, Sherman is making a list of ways she plans to use the data LeadingAge collects from members around the nation. That list has the word “better” written all over it:

  • Better advocacy.
  • A better picture of trends in the field.
  • Better programs and services.

“Having the survey data is really going to help us do a much better job of talking about our members, advocating for them, and serving them,” says Sherman.

Better Advocacy

Primarily, Sherman plans to use the survey data to step up her game on the advocacy front.

“We spend a lot of time telling legislators and policy makers stories about the great work our members are doing,” says Sherman about her LeadingAge Massachusetts team. “But those stories will become even more powerful when we have numbers to back up our messages.”

Policy makers always ask Sherman one question, no matter what action they’re considering: Exactly how many people will be affected?

She hasn’t always had a reliable answer.

“The member survey will give us a much better understanding of the demographics of the people our members serve,” says Sherman. “We’ll have reliable numbers to give policy makers. And that’s really important.”

A Better Picture of Trends in the Field

LeadingAge Massachusetts members are hungry for information about emerging trends in the field of long-term services and supports (LTSS).

Sherman knows she won’t get that trends data from the 2019 survey, which is designed to collect baseline data about LeadingAge members across the country. But the robust baseline that emerges from the 2019 survey data will put LeadingAge researchers in an ideal position to spot trends during follow-up surveys that are scheduled for 2021, 2023, 2025 and beyond.

“If we can collect enough information from enough members this year, then we’ll get a treasure trove of data in future years,” says Sherman.

That treasure trove will include data about trends that could impact an LTSS organization’s strategic planning process, says Sherman. Identifying those trends will allow LeadingAge Massachusetts and other state affiliates to help their members anticipate and get ready for what lies ahead.

Because she wants to see both national and state-level trends, Sherman is working hard to get as high a response rate as possible from LeadingAge members in her state. That’s because researchers at LeadingAge won’t have enough data to produce state-specific data unless a high percentage of members in each state respond to the survey.

“Every state will need both kinds of data—national and statewide—to help them prepare members for the future,” says Sherman. “It is really important for us to know what is happening in Massachusetts, but we also want to know whether we are unique. Is a particular trend happening across the country? Even if we find that our members in Massachusetts are not seeing this trend, maybe it’s happening in California. That’s important information because we know from experience that whatever starts in another state oftentimes will soon get to our state.”

Better Programs and Services

Eventually, data from the member survey will help LeadingAge Massachusetts, other state affiliates, and LeadingAge National take steps to better align their programs and services with the trends uncovered by the survey.

“It will be easier to develop programs at the state level when we have a better idea of who it is that our members are serving, what they are doing, and how the membership is changing,” says Sherman. “The survey data will definitely help us do a better job of planning what we can do on behalf of our members.”

About the Member Survey

On June 6, every LeadingAge member organization will receive one survey for each of its settings, including skilled nursing, assisted living, market-rate housing, affordable housing, and home and community-based services such as home health care, non-medical home care, adult day, and hospice.

The surveys will be sent directly to the individuals responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of these settings and the home and community-based services within each organization. Each survey will arrive by email.

“Completing the survey when it arrives is something that is really important for members to do not just for LeadingAge or for their state association, but for themselves,” says Sherman. “I can’t stress enough how great it is going to be to have reliable data available so members can compare themselves to others and make good decisions about the future.”