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Four ways a facility newsletter pays off.

It can be more than just a "nice idea"

All nursing home administrators are looking for new ways to 1) conduct facility marketing, 2) build staff morale, 3) gain customer satisfaction and 4) improve the facility's reputation. A newsletter can do it all. Many nursing homes already have one. If so, they should evaluate its quality, content and form, all of which we'll discuss in a moment. If not, you already know four good reasons to consider one.

As part of my C.Q.I. and Staff Development Program, I recently assisted our facility in producing its newsletter. I decided that a quarterly publication was adequate for our needs, and that a monthly product was too costly and unnecessary for a facility of 180 beds. We developed the newsletter specifically to meet all four of the needs I've described. How?

To begin with, think of yourself as a family member who lives out-of-state and has never visited your facility. How would you want to portray your facility to this person - or, for that matter, to potential local customers and referral sources? Remember, newsletters have a way of circulating throughout your community. Our first cover article was entitled "Oakwood Terrace, A Superior Rated Facility, The C.Q.I. Program". This told the reader that we are already superior-rated, and that we have instituted a Continuous Quality Improvement Program to improve on our already outstanding care and services.

But we went further than that, deciding to offer specific information about the facility, care and services, residents and staff, and what they mean to us. Therefore, our first page included a section that Welcomes Our New Employees, including their positions, thus demonstrating our constant upgrading of staff and letting new employees know that they are an important part of the facility's operation. Another section highlighted, with photo, our Resident of the Month, with information about the resident and what made him/her so special. On the bottom of the cover page, we included the facility phone number, a listing of all departments, department heads and extensions to call for information.

The inside of the cover, or second page, contained a section called "From Our Administrator", which included a mission statement and a brief message about the Administrator's goals and objectives. On the same page we included "Staff Anniversary Dates," highlighting employees who have been with the facility for more than one year. This section clearly demonstrated to readers that our staff has consistency, and this implies the consistency of care being provided by the home.

At the bottom of the page we included a section entitled, "Staff Notes". This section was filled with interesting information about our staff members who had something special or exciting happen in their lives during the quarter - births, graduations, promotions, etc.

The third page contained a section entitled, "From our Departments". Each department in the facility provided a brief mission statement or other comments that described the staffers' working relationship to residents or special feelings for the facility. On the same page we added two sections, one entitled "Nursing Quotes", which contained positive quotes from our nursing staff, and another section that we called "New Developments", which described new programs.

The back cover, or fourth page, contained a section called "A Caring Place", written by our DON, and a section entitled "Helpful Hints For Family Members", intended to enhance their quality of life and the quality of their visits with their loved ones. Also, our "Employee of the Quarter" occupied a section, and included a photo and copy about why this person was special to the residents and staff. Finally, we added a section called "Results Of Our Family Satisfaction Survey", which thanked our family members for their participation in the survey and described the results obtained.

Other facilities can produce newsletters that are as attractive and multi-purpose. Here are a few tips:

Quality is the first concern. Be sure your newsletter is on quality paper: #80 coated stock is adequate for your needs. Use two-color print for added impact. Black print with another color for highlights or titles can add an eye-catching touch. Include photos of your facility, staff or residents to give readers visuals that they may relate to.

Give your newsletter a catchy title. And be sure you include a photo of the facility worked in with the title.

You have basically two choices when considering production: 1). You can do it yourself in-house. For this you will need a computer, a software program such as Corel Draw, Print Shop Deluxe or Brochure Maker (costing anywhere from $100 to $500 or more), and you will need a staff to write the copy, edit, lay out and print your newsletter. (If you don't have a color printer, you will need that, too). This is probably the most costly way to produce a quality newsletter, but may prove worth it in meeting your needs.

2). You can hire a professional printer to lay out and format your newsletter, and you only have to provide the copy. Some specifics about production costs: Our local printer quoted me a price for a two-color newsletter, including photographs, of $314.50 for 350 copies. The printer set up the format sections to my specifications, and all we had to do was prepare the text and bring it to him. This is the most cost-effective way to produce a quality product.

In return for this investment, we have developed an excellent marketing tool, we have helped to build staff morale by acknowledging their special efforts, we have increased family satisfaction by providing them with facts about the nursing home of which they were unaware, and we have provided our residents with information about their "home."

Alan Meyers, PhD, is Staff Development Consultant to Claridge House, North Miami, FL. He is a clinical psychologist and practicing psychotherapist.
COPYRIGHT 1996 Medquest Communications, LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:nursing home newsletters
Author:Meyers, Alan
Publication:Nursing Homes
Date:Feb 1, 1996
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