Population Health Insights

Breaking the Status Quo: Lean in or sit back?

When it comes to improving the quality of service your community offers, is the standard operating procedure good enough? In the face of changing demographics, changing technology, and changing regulations, are you leaning in or sitting back to see what happens next?

Smart deployments of technology can have positive impacts on resident safety, improved length of stay, and your ability to meet the demanding expectations of a new cohort of aging boomers.

Resident safety

The number one concern of Long-Term Care (LTC) communities? Resident safety. As seniors enter assisted living (AL) today, LTC providers are seeing a change in demographics. In a recent Care Innovations survey, over half the AL operators indicated their biggest challenge when it came to resident safety was older and more frail residents with more support required for Activities of Daily Living (ADLs), followed by health risks such as falls that lead to hospitalization¹. To keep an increasing older population safe requires an innovative approach to resident monitoring.

Changing expectations on technology

In 2012, half of all Americans over 65 used the Internet or email: 34% of seniors use Facebook*, and 86% use email (48% doing so on a daily basis)². The number of seniors using social networking increased to 43% in 2013³. However, the Care Innovations™ survey revealed only 53% of communities offer complimentary WiFi to residents¹. As more senior living communities adapt to the expectations of tech-savvy boomers for a plugged-in community, you may see an increase in tech spending.

That’s borne out in a recent Ziegler-CAST Technology Spending Survey reported in LeadingAge* Magazine. Ninety percent of the Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) surveyed said they invested in high-speed wireless connectivity. That investment appears to be on the rise, as 75% of the CFOs indicated they would increase spending in the future.

That makes sound business sense to Sarah Hoit, CEO of ConnectedLiving*, a Boston-based organization dedicated to improving the lives of seniors through communications technology. “Boomers aren’t going to come anywhere there isn’t technology structure,” Hoit says.

Changing populations

When it comes to being proactive to changing populations, what can your community do to adapt? “In 1999, the average age of those entering assisted living was 82 years old. Now, residents are coming in at age 87 or 88,” reported Senior Housing News. As residents enter LTCs at an older age, they are enrolling with increasingly higher acuity levels.

To prepare for this influx of seniors with a demand for higher levels of medical care, senior living communities are modifying staffing levels, increasing training, and in some cases adopting a tiered system of pricing based on medical need. To manage individuals with more needs requires a new approach. Josh Allen, chair of the American Assisted Living Nurses Association, offered a protocol for adapting to a population demanding higher levels of medical care. Allen suggests senior living communities review the top 10 chronic medical conditions and then evaluate their ability to provide care for each³.

Length of stay

To increase length of stay, reduce hospital visits. As elderly residents are hospitalized – whether it is from a fall, or a urinary tract infection, their likelihood of returning to your senior living community decreases dramatically. As reported in The Incidence of Fall Injury Events Among the Elderly in a Defined Population only 50% of hospitalized residents return to their community. Finding proactive ways to intervene more quickly, such as better staff training and monitoring systems that report on resident activity may help you increase the length of stay of residents in your community.

Enhance residence safety, security, and length of stay

To learn how to become an agent for positive change, and improve delivery of care using technology, contact a Senior Living Specialist who can explain innovative solutions that will give your community a competitive advantage. Call (800) 450-0970 or send us an email.