Question: My family and I reside in the United States, and I have always been abreast with happenings in Nigeria. Part of this has been through encounters with your approach to solving marketing problems, going by your presence online (on www.iroy.in). Please let me know your stand on this situation:
My wife (a highly experienced registered healthcare giver) has recently been required by an international healthcare organisation to facilitate establishing, in Nigeria, a residential care home for the elderly (better known in the country as Old People’s Home). If successful, this would spread to some other locations in the country. What are the requirements for a suitable market for such in the place? – Taiwo O.
My stand in such a situation typically, is to urge that you commission a comprehensive Marketing Intelligence exercise for a start, to afford you a clearer picture of the market for effective decision taking, as I do not endorse “measuring the depth of a river with both feet”. In spite of this, I am inclined to encourage your efforts by providing a sort of overview on what to expect in this environment, coupled with an intension for other readers to derive some benefits from goings-on here.
Residential care home for the elderly, mostly referred to in Nigeria as Old People’s Home (OPH), depict residential facility for a group that requires special care or supervision, in this case the elderly that often fall within the age range of 75 years and above. OPHs (which I still view as a nursing home business) are often designed to provide food, shelter, and medical care for their residents, as well as social, religious, civic, creative, and intellectual activities.
In Nigeria, the general pattern is for the elderly to converge (for one reason or another) occasionally at such centres, as may be organised by non-governmental or charitable organisations. The concept of establishing a clear-cut residential facility (as obtainable in developed countries) is not common around. Without jeopardising the Marketing Intelligence exercise which I have proposed, I do not hesitate to state here that it is ‘worth trying’ in view of obvious influence of globalization, and other modern societal tendencies the Nigerian society is faced with presently.
By way of hindrances, I suspect you are already aware about the place of the extended family system within the Nigerian cultural setting. Many are likely to uphold the view that this system will always cater for their elderly ones in the family, rather than ‘isolating’ them in a facility. Going by the distractions of modern societies, coupled with the fast decline of the extended family system, Nigeria can not be insulated from this trend, as there is no doubt that it is quite germane to put in place adequate facilities to cater for the needs of old people. These require only the best people that can ensure the comfort as well as the well-being of residents of such places.
Furthermore, the well known constraints to setting up ventures in Nigeria (and the additional costs components) must be borne in mind – Poor infrastructure (with inadequate provision of power supply being key, while substandard state of the roads and other utilities crown it up); then above all, corruption, which has refused to go away. Multiple taxation which many have been complaining about, may likely not apply in this case, in view of this form of endeavour likely being perceived as humanitarian. From a business perspective, I am quite aware that any ‘healthcare business’ is always a very lucrative venture.
However, knowing these as obvious areas of hitches, and the possession of what it takes to surmount them the ‘Nigerian way’, about 50 percent of the job is done. This is without overlooking steps to appropriately register the OPH with the relevant authorities, which I believe you know is mandatory like in the United States.
Without going into types expected to be suitable as range of services for this environment, I am quite conscious of the fact that all parties involved in facilitating what it takes to make your OPH a reality in Nigeria, should be aware of what must be installed by way of features in the OPH (e.g. dormitories, private rooms, offices, recreation spaces, reception areas, etc). The same holds for adequate staff of qualified caregivers like registered nurses (RNs), diet specialist(s), social services workers, and even sanitary workers such as janitors.
It is glaring that these would be essential as amenities that should make your residents stay as comfortably as in their own homes: Laundry facilities; a flat linen service; periodic housekeeping services (to assist residents that can’t maintain their rooms by themselves); well ventilated or air conditioning systems; and above all a workable emergency response system. For desiring Nigerian families, the burden of caring for their older family members can be overwhelming, and a place where these seniors can socialize and participate in activities in a safe, supervised environment would be a welcome option.
By way of hints in the area of promotion, may I simply point out that even where most people agree that rendition of services in this area are often associated with humanitarianism, tools of marketing are quite relevant in this regard. Marketing an OPH requires expertise not only in the proper assessment of local competition, but also in the inner workings of the facility. Also understanding what a potential client requires and how the facility fulfills these requirements, provides a vital marketing tool for the OPH being projected.
As the facility, from the perspective of professional expectations, would likely be tied-in with a local hospital, an essential marketing component which can be exploited should comprise those primarily target potential clients within this hospital’s settings (e.g. the specific neighborhoods many of its clientele come from, their socioeconomic background, and then the promotional materials should be adjusted to appeal to residents of related neighborhoods and towns). Please feel free to call for more tools for impact through marketing or appropriate strategies, if you require such.
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