Business benefits of an enrichment program

Enrichment activities have been shown to positively impact depression, behavioral symptoms, self-esteem, and well-being for persons with dementia. From music to art, storytelling to physical activity, the creative process as well as the social contact appears to raise the quality of life for the client. These activities can also provide respite and relief for family caregivers, improving their own quality of life as well.

But what about the business side?
As a care manager, how might an enrichment program improve your bottom line?

Here are some of the benefits noted by care managers who offer this type of service:

  • Continuity of care. Once the original crisis that prompted the call for a care manager is stabilized, an enrichment program allows care managers to stay connected with the client and family with these less-expensive but important quality of life services.
  • Improved cash flow. Care managers receive more consistent monthly income as these activities are not crisis-based.
  • Emphasis on quality of life. While care managers espouse a bio-psycho-social approach, problem-based services tend to emphasize medical advocacy and do not as readily showcase the psycho-social. Enrichment is the “joy department.” With client and family permission, you can share these “good news” stories and will have others very happy to pass them along (e.g., social media, the press).
  • Unique offering that resonates with referrers. Stories from enrichment activities are so uplifting, referrers remember them and are excited to recommend them to clients who would benefit. One care manager began blogging about these activites on her LinkedIn and connected with several referrers this way.
  • Stronger bonding with families. Time spent in enrichment activities was time family caregivers could take for themselves. Even those families who lived far away reported relief from guilt when they saw happy photos of their loved ones enjoying the activities.
  • Expanded client base. While dementia is the most common condition, the more experienced enrichment providers notice they can offer tailored support activities for a variety of elder issues relating to loneliness and isolation:

Some have expanded to serving persons with cerebral palsy and other types of disability as these clients often have a special needs trust that fund enrichment activities.

The Business Model

What seems to work out best is for the care manager to find a motivated self-starter to shepherd the program. You need someone who is empathetic and has a background working with older adults. They do not need a nursing or social work degree. In some practices, the specialist is also the person to drum up business (give presentations, meet with referrers, post on social media…). In others, they are simply the professional in the field and it is the business development person in the practice who adds enrichment to the list of services they promote.

The low-hanging fruit is to start by referring existing clients for enrichment. But eventually marketing the services to the community and to referrers can result in the enrichment program bringing in clients in its own right. (Families who don’t really know about care management, but are worried about a loved one’s isolation or lack of joy or engagement, become attracted to the program. The astute enrichment specialist can then make suggestions about other care management services if they notice, for instance, a need for medical advocacy, or a family member worried about the safety of aging in place.)

Turnkey options
Businesswise, there is a lot to coordinate to put together an enrichment program: from contracts and liability waivers, to recruiting/training specialists and promoting the program. It can be a long runway before takeoff.

Two Aging Life Care Managers have put together packages with support materials such as legal documents, training sessions for specialists and marketing resources to promote the program. These turnkey packages help you get going quickly and generally offer support services, including meetings with others throughout the country who have also licensed the materials.

You might wish to check out the following:

  • Mind-Sense® by Anne Sansevero out of New York City. Mind-Sense provides a unique Tree Stages® model to help specialists identify stages of dementia and appropriate activities.
  • Thoughtful Engagement® by Crystal Littlejohn out of Phoenix, AZ. Thoughtful Engagement gives licensees a website, blog, and promotional case study handouts branded with the care manager’s name, logo and colors.*

If you are looking for a unique strategy to add to your revenue stream and support quality of life for clients and their families, an enrichment program is a creative and uplifting way to expand your practice. Some providers (retiring or those with small children) have even shifted to providing only enrichment services as a way to stay involved professionally without the intensity of medical advocacy or being on call.


* Full disclosure: Elder Pages Online works with Thoughtful Engagement providing websites, blogs and branded handouts for care managers who license the Thoughtful Engagement package.

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