Agents Can Differentiate Themselves By Offering Risk Mitigation Strategies to Senior Care Facilities

Risk Management and Loss Control Services Can Benefit Agents and Healthcare Business Owners

By: John Wildfire, Head of Healthcare Programs at PMC Healthcare, a division of PMC Insurance Group 

Nursing homes, physical rehab centers, and assisted living facilities traditionally have at least one thing in common – the majority of Workers’ Compensation claims filed by injured employees typically fall into a small number of categories. Given that rates for these exposures are often on the higher side, insurance costs due to injuries are a significant expense for business owners.  Keeping these costs as low as possible is essential for insurance agents looking to write more accounts in this space. Read on for answers and insights into how you can position yourself for greater growth.

Q:  What are the most common injuries within Senior Care facilities and how can they be prevented?

A: As most people would expect to see in the healthcare space, patient handling strains, slips, falls, and pains due to overuse are the most common injuries we see. It is unrealistic to say that these injuries can be 100% eliminated, however, many of them are more preventable than most people think. Oftentimes, we find that these injuries occur when there is a missed step in the business’s risk prevention plan.  For example, there might be spilled liquid that someone saw and said they would come back in a few minutes to clean and someone slips, or a nurse who thought he could handle a lighter weight patient without assistance shifts slightly and tweaks his back.  It is extremely important that each facility develop a risk prevention plan, train workers appropriately, and implement it with regular check-ins to make sure everyone is following it.  Unfortunately, many facility owners either do not know how to do this or are not aware of the financial impact that not having a risk prevention program can have on their insurance costs and ultimately their bottom line.

Q:  How can you help an owner of a Senior Care Facility get started with a risk prevention plan?

A:  Some of the most successful insurance agents we work with within this space offer help with loss control as part of their service model.  They gain instant credibility as both an insurance provider and overall business consultant when they can offer specific steps to help reduce costs in the long run. For example, if an agent notices that a facility only has one Hoyer Lift in the entire building, but assesses that almost all residents need help getting up or down, she might recommend that all rooms have a wall or ceiling-mounted lifting equipment to prevent injuries. At PMC we can help agents who don’t currently offer these services, so they can stay ahead of their competition.

Q:  What other suggestions do you have for agents working with Senior Care Facility owners?

A:  There are several ideas agents can offer their clients to differentiate themselves from everyone else who is just focused on finding the lowest premium.

  • Implement a comprehensive risk prevention program (addressing the topics below) to educate all employees regarding the facility’s approved and mandated safety practices.  Put the program in print, have regularly scheduled meetings, and appoint a Director of Safety to oversee the program, and ensure that the integral steps are documented and followed.
  • Encourage owners to implement employee training which is the most crucial step because if this isn’t done, nothing else matters.
  • Consult on ways to identify and mitigate slip, trip, and fall hazards – Helpful measures include immediate cleaning of spills, fixing or installing handrails where needed, proper lighting, organization of electrical cords so they are out of the way of feet, and removing loose rugs or mats are some that could really help.  Mandating or providing non-slip shoes is also a smart idea.
  • Outline the ROI of using specialized patient lifting equipment – Proper lifting equipment is just as beneficial for the safety of the employees as it is for the residents, which could have long-term negative business consequences should one become injured.
  • Help clients set up or enhance injury reporting protocols – Timely reporting of injuries, including near-miss incidents, makes it easier to mitigate occupational hazards and often leads to lower claims costs when injuries are reported sooner rather than later.  Employees should be reminded of these best practices on a regular basis.
  • Suggest Stress Management programs – While we often focus on the physical aspects of injury prevention, helping employees’ maintain their mental and emotional health can also lead to fewer workplace injuries.  Providing access to wellness programs such as yoga, meditation, and aerobic exercise are good examples.
  • Send a link to discounted Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and encourage manager accountability – holding managers accountable for the use of PPE or providing an incentive for managers to keep their employees safe while on duty can result in fewer claims.

Q:  How can you justify the upfront cost of implementing a risk prevention plan to a Senior Care Facility owner?

A:  There is an upfront cost, however, an agent can easily diagram that the $2,000-$4,000 average cost per room for safe patient handling equipment could end up being recouped in as little as two to three years in comparison to the frequency and severity of the Workers’ Comp claims that would result if an owner did not take that step.

Q:  How can PMC help agents who do not have risk mitigation services?

A:  PMC has extensive resources available for both agents and their clients. Our Risk Management Services include everything from consulting to video loss control reviews to boots on the ground training.  Our team can assist by creating an individualized risk prevention and training program customized to the individual business. Our online PMC Resource Center offers extensive, self-administered training related to safe patient lifting, preventing slips & falls blood-borne pathogens, and the proper handling of needles along with many other topics related to the healthcare industry. Too often, we hear stories of accounts being lost because agents fall short in delivering these options or reminding their current clients that there are PMC resources available to help them.

For more information, contact us at 781-449-7744 or healthcare@pmcinsurance.com or visit our website at https://pmcinsurance.com/workers-compensation-risk-management-services/.

By PMC Insurance Group

Since 1996, PMC Insurance Group has worked to help independent agents grow their client base by offering workers' compensation solutions for a wide array of businesses. As one of the most distinguished workers' compensation wholesalers in the country, we have the tools and resources to help you create coverage programs for both small businesses and large accounts.