Plan for December: Get ready for the New Year and start 2014 with a focus on wellness

We all know that maintaining a healthy weight is about more than just looking good – it’s about feeling good and leading a healthy life. Healthy Weight Week is Jan. 19-25, and it’s an ideal time to remind seniors that a eating well and maintaining a healthy weight can help them avoid or lessen complications from many illnesses and live a more active life. Focus on education as you kick off the year, and show the community your passion for health.

Some of our strongest partners in providing comprehensive health care to seniors are pharmacists. National Pharmacist Day is Jan. 12. Take the time to educate pharmacists on ways your agency can help customers who might need help adhering to their medication regimen or who may be at risk of harmful complications. Be sure to recognize them for all the work they do.

  • Call on your local pharmacists and give them a playful card that thanks them for their hard work. Include a small treat with the card. Find them at
  • Be sure the pharmacists in your area receive a copy of your agency’s home care calendar. Encourage them to display it in an area where they and their customers will see it often. Find it at
  • Leave stacks of your agency’s rack cards about issues common among seniors at your local pharmacy counter. Find them at

New Year’s Day is only days away. It’s time to plan your marketing for the year and make sure you’re increasing your presence in your community. Effective marketing strategies are the key to keeping your agency’s name top of mind and ensuring you’re the agency of choice when it’s time to make a referral.

  • Contact local senior centers, assisted living facilities, church groups, retirement groups and other local groups with a large senior attendance. Work out a schedule for your agency that will allow you to regularly reach out to these groups by hosting a series of community education classes. Find done-for-you classes that don’t require participation by a clinician, complete with handout and promotional materials at
  • As you craft your marketing plan for the year, use the power of variable data campaigns to get a specific message to a specific audience. Reach seniors, referral sources or potential employees – all by name – with a personal message that is relevant to each. Learn more at

Plan for November: The holidays are here! Are you ready?

If you haven’t started thinking about Christmas and Hanukkah yet, now is the time. Thanksgiving will be here in a blink and you don’t want to get caught unprepared for your business’ holiday needs. So get in a festive mood and make sure you’re ready to not only celebrate, but share the season with your referral sources, health care partners, clients and staff.

  • Holiday Cards are a time-tested way to get into the spirit of the season, capture the attention of your referral sources and health care partners, and send a subtle reminder of the value of home care. Cards are personalized to your agency and are appropriate for all faiths. Find them at
  • Stand out from the holiday noise by sending a card that can be used all year long. Holiday calendar cards are personalized to your agency and include a one-page 2014 calendar. Find them at
  • Spread holiday cheer with a high-value, low-cost giveaway for clients, referral sources, senior centers, and employees. Personalized CDs with beautiful instrumental versions of many holiday classics will enliven any environment and make sure your agency stays top of mind year after year. Find them at

Speaking of holidays, New Year’s Day is only weeks away, which of course means the end of 2013. If you haven’t already, it’s definitely time to make sure your agency is putting the new year to work for you. Don’t miss out on the incredible opportunity to put your agency’s name and contact information in the hands of referral sources, prospects and clients all year long.

  • Personalized home care and hospice wall calendars are an excellent way to promote your agency while educating referral sources and patients. Distribute them to everyone and ensure that your agency maintains community awareness throughout the year. Find them at
  • Call on local senior centers and referral sources this month and make sure to leave behind a lasting and helpful reminder of who you are and what you do. Personalized magnetic calendars will find homes on refrigerators and file cabinets all year long, jogging their memory about your agency every time they glance at the date. Find them at
  • Arm your employees with notebook planners or weekly planners personalized to your agency that will not only accentuate their professional appearance, but will keep them organized. Planners feature plenty of room for notes and scheduling, and also list important health care observances. These also are useful tools for referral sources. Find them at and
  • Attend local senior-focused health fairs and distribute personalized pocket planners to prospects. Clients also will find these helpful for keeping track of their appointments – and remembering your agency name if they need home care services again in 2014. Find them at

December is an important month in health care because it’s the time of year when we highlight one of the world’s most serious diseases: AIDS.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.1 million Americans ages 13 and older were living with HIV in 2009, including 207,600 who had undiagnosed infections. About 50,000 people are newly infected with the virus that causes AIDS each year. In fact, someone in the U.S. is infected with HIV once every 9.5 minutes. Additionally, about 30,000 people were diagnosed with AIDS in 2011. This is in addition to the estimated 487,692 people already living with an AIDS diagnosis in 2010. The disease remains deadly in spite of recent medical advances – 15,529 people with an AIDS diagnosis died in 2010 in this country. About 636,048 people with an AIDS diagnosis in the United States have died since the disease was discovered.

This International AIDS Awareness Month, make a commitment to increase community awareness of AIDS and HIV and the ways your agency can help. Be sure to also take part in World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

  • Call on local clinics specializing in AIDS and HIV. Offer to host a free chronic disease management course that their clients will find helpful. Find the class at
  • Hospice agencies should be sure to leave behind personalized hospice specialty care flyers about HIV for use by agency personnel. Find them at
  • Call on HIV specialists in your community and discuss the benefits of hospice care for end-stage AIDS patients. Leave behind a personalized Guidelines for Hospice Admission flip chart, a physician tool that describes the common end-stage indicators for common illnesses, including HIV disease. Find them at
  • Provide HIV specialists with agency-personalized pain and symptom logs for them to distribute to their patients (and your prospects). The logs provide an easy way for patients to track their pain and other symptoms and communicate this information to their physician. Find them at

Plan for October: Get ready for National Home Care and Hospice Month!

It’s here! National Home Care and Hospice Month is finally here! Well, almost. There are still a few weeks left before the celebrations start, but October is the time to kick your planning into high gear. November’s National Home Care and Hospice Month is a great month to not only celebrate the important work you do, but to draw positive community attention to your agency.

  • Use special National Home Care Month or National Hospice Month greeting cards, magnets and bookmarks to recognize the efforts of your employees, volunteers and referral partners – all the physicians, discharge planners, case managers, social workers and others who play a huge role in making your work possible. Find them at
  • As you educate the community about what home care or hospice care is all about, use informative flip charts to ensure referral sources know when it is appropriate to refer a patient to your services. Guidelines for Home Health Admission are personalized to your agency and list the diagnosis codes for more than 200 common conditions. Find them at: Guidelines for Hospice Flip Charts detail the admission guidelines for many common hospice diagnoses. Find them at
  • Demonstrate to referral sources that you are not only qualified, but have a proven record of assisting patients with a variety of conditions. Patient Outcomes Brochures for Physicians outline the services you offer per disease. They also provide real data about your quality outcomes and how they compare to your competitors. Find them at Find accompanying brochures for patients at
  • Distribute FAQ brochures about Home Care, Hospice or Private Duty care at health fairs and community events in November as you educate about your services. Brochures include answers to commonly asked questions about coverage, payment, services, eligibility and more. Find them at

November is National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month. As our nation’s senior population grows, more Americans will be living with the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, about 5.4 million Americans already are living with the disease, making it the most common form of dementia.

  • Present a free class on staying mentally sharp at your area senior centers. The Exercise Your Brain class from the Health Matters Education Series offers an easy-to-follow presentation about ways to keep mentally fit to stave off problems in memory and thinking. Find it at
  • After the class, leave behind puzzle books personalized to your agency to not only keep these potential clients mentally engaged, but to create broader awareness of your agency and educate about the benefits of home health, hospice or private duty care. Find them at
  • Visit with local neurologists, geriatric psychiatrists and geriatricians to tell them about your Alzheimer’s program. Demonstrate your agency’s serious focus on working with Alzheimer’s patients by showing off your Alzheimer’s disease patient education guide. Find it at Leave behind stacks of your Alzheimer’s disease information brochures in their waiting rooms. Find them at

Diabetes is a condition that affects about 25.8 million children and adults in the United States, or about 8.3 percent of the population. Among older adults, the percentage skyrockets to nearly 27 percent. Position yourself as a local health care leader and make a commitment this American Diabetes Month to join the fight against diabetes and promote healthier living for people of all ages.

  • Call on local endocrinologists and discuss your agency’s services for people with diabetes. Leave behind personalized glucose monitoring logs for the physician to distribute to patients. Find them at The logs provide a place to easily record blood glucose and important screenings and will go with patients wherever they go.
  • Diabetes can affect the blood vessels in the eyes, making optometrists and ophthalmologists an important health care provider for these patients. Leave stacks of agency brochures about diabetes in the offices of your local eye doctors. Find them at
  • Include diabetes-focused Zone Flyers in your regular care program for clients with diabetes. The flyers help people assess the severity of their symptoms and determine whether a call to their home health nurse or to 911 is warranted. Be sure to show your referral sources this important tool and explain how it helps reduce re-hospitalizations and makes patients more involved in their own care. Find it at

Get focused. Get training. Get more referrals.

The end of the year is in sight and it’s time to start thinking about refocusing your efforts to get even more of your local market share. A great way to do that is by attending a home care and hospice-specific sales and marketing training event to get energized and learn the latest tips and tricks from experts in home care and business growth.

  • There is still time to register for PMX, a three-day specialized sales and marketing experience devoted entirely to home health, hospice and private duty. PMX: PlayMaker CRM Expo & User Conference is the industry’s top destination for gaining the innovative tools and strategies needed to improve marketing efficiency; strengthen branding; increase referrals, census and revenue; and dominate your market. You do not have to be a PlayMaker CRM customer to attend or to get the full benefit of PMX.

PMX is Sept. 18-20 in Nashville, Tenn. Visit to learn more. We have secured a special discount for readers of this blog. Enter promo code BOGO when you register to buy one seat and get the second seat FREE.

Take a deep breath and get ready because October is all about lung awareness. Not only is October Healthy Lung Month, but Lung Health Day is Oct. 30 and National Respiratory Care Week Is Oct. 20-26. The number of Americans affected by lung disease is staggering. With about 158,000 deaths every year (more than prostate, pancreas, breast and colon cancer combined), lung cancer is the nation’s deadliest cancer. About 206,000 people are diagnosed with the condition each year. Additionally, about 10 million adults are diagnosed with chronic bronchitis each year, and about 4.7 million others have ever been diagnosed with emphysema – the diseases that make up Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). About 25 million people live with asthma. Take a stand for lung health and encourage your community to spread the word about lung disease.

  • Use your agency’s COPD outcome scores to demonstrate to physicians your success at providing quality outcomes for certain conditions. Outcomes brochures for the physician detail the specific services you offer and display your outcome scores as compared to state or national averages. Find them at Companion brochures for patients are available at
  • Hospice agencies can visit with physicians and discharge planners to discuss when referral is appropriate for patients with lung disease/COPD. The hospice specialty care flyer, which includes easy-to-follow end-stage indicators, is a wonderful tool to clearly convey this message. Find it at
  • Partner with physicians to improve hospice care for patients with COPD. The COPD hospice disease case study provides a specific patient scenario in which hospice referral would be recommended. Find it at
  • Empower your COPD patients and improve your positive outcomes by providing them with COPD zone flyers that tell them when their symptoms indicate a call to their home health nurse is needed, and when it’s time to call 911. Find them at Reminder stickers and magnets also are available at
  • Show physicians you’re serious about giving patients an active role in managing their condition by using patient education guides, which are packed with guidance, tips, goals and logs. Be sure to take the guides along when you call on physicians to discuss potential referrals and the care you provide. Find guides for asthma and COPD at

Get your pink ribbons ready. October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The American Cancer Society estimates that 232,340 new cases of invasive breast cancer and about 34,640 new cases of non-invasive carcinoma in situ will be diagnosed in the United States in 2013. About 39,620 women will die from breast cancer in 2013. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, surpassed only by lung cancer. With nearly 3 million breast cancer survivors in this country alone, it’s a disease that touches nearly everyone in some way. So put on that pink T-shirt and prepare to spread the word about breast cancer awareness, treatment and how home care and hospice can help.

International Infection Prevention Week is Oct. 20-26. Having good hand hygiene and awareness of simple protections to prevent contracting a cold or flu are simple but hugely important steps we all need to keep from getting sick. Highlight these simple strategies this week and play your part in reducing your community’s rates of potentially deadly infections.

Plan for September: Living better through education

September is National Pain Awareness Month. According to the American Pain Foundation, about 50 million Americans suffer from persistent pain each year. What’s more, about one in three Americans lose 20 hours of sleep or more every month due to pain. Those in pain don’t suffer alone — their family members suffer, too. Commit to observing Pain Awareness Month by educating your community and helping them find ways to cope with the condition.

  • Hospice agencies can distribute Pain and Symptom Logs to patients to help educate them and their caregivers about the importance of pain and symptom tracking. Find them at
  • Ask your area pharmacists whether you can leave brochures at their counters about pain management and how your agency can help. Find them at
  • Give patients who suffer from pain a durable Zone Flyer that clearly shows them what’s normal, what merits a call to your agency and what warrants a call to 911. Show your referral sources that you are using this handy tool to improve patient education and outcomes. Find them at
  • Leave stacks of flyers about pain management, chronic pain or arthritis in the waiting rooms of local rheumatologists, internists and family practice physicians. Find them at

High cholesterol is a problem that plagues millions of Americans. In fact, about 71 million American adults (almost 34 percent!) have high LDL or “bad” cholesterol, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This puts them at about twice the risk of heart disease as people with lower levels of the substance, and only about 1 in 3 adults with high LDL cholesterol has the condition under control. Do your part to increase awareness of this condition during September’s National Cholesterol Education Month.

  • Host a free class for seniors on heart health or diet and nutrition. Find a ready-made class at
  • Visit with local internists, cardiologists and family practice physicians and ask to leave informational brochures about heart disease, stroke or diabetes at their checkout desk. Find them at
  • Visit your area hospitals over the weekend and stock their waiting rooms (not just the main waiting room) with rack cards educating about heart disease, weight loss, and stroke — and how your agency can help. Find them at

National Rehabilitation Awareness Week is Sept. 15-21. Show your support for the rehabilitation professionals at your agency and in your community by taking part in this celebration sponsored by the National Rehabilitation Awareness Foundation.

  • Call on orthopedic surgeons and leave behind tablet mousepads that educate about your agency’s physical therapy services. The mousepads include a 25-sheet tear-off pad for note taking. Find the mousepads at
  • Educate your community about the benefits of physical and occupational therapy. Offer to stop in and give a short five-minute presentation about the benefits of physical and occupational therapy during this month’s meetings of your local rotary clubs, Lions Clubs, elected officials and other meetings that draw a large number of senior attendees. Be sure to leave behind stacks of physical and occupational therapy flyers. Find them at
  • Visit the offices of local neurologists and leave behind home care speech therapy brochures. Find them at