The impact of COVID-19 on senior living communities has been tremendous, especially when it comes to keeping residents engaged and connected...
How does Independa help senior living communities improve their top and bottom line benefits?
How do we deliver on our promise to increase senior living occupancy, staff efficiency and resident engagement while creating a more connected environment?
Shannon Ingram of Senior Housing Forum shares her personal, exasperating account on caring for her octogenarian parents in their home and eventually in a community, and the breath of relief Independa brings to communities and families caring for aging adults.
What happens to Grandma and Grandpa when only 10% of long-term care communities have enough nurses to provide basic care? Who will be caring for our aunts and uncles, cousins and friends? If less than 1% of registered nurses are certified in adult-gerontology, will the people we love actually be taken care of by the people we’re entrusting them with?
Numbers may not tell the whole story, but this infographic from Maryville University entitled “How Baby Boomers Will Impact The Nursing Shortage” does give us a glimpse into what the future might look like:
As you can see, there is a critical shortage of gerontology certified nurses who have the preparation required to address the needs of and care for older adults. Plus, faced with rising healthcare costs, many aging Americans and their families are unable to afford the special care they need. How can organizations in the field of aging meet the demands of this population when faced with an incredible shortage of qualified caregivers?
Fortunately, the right technology can scale and amplify a workforce in such short supply. IndependaTVe is one such technology; specifically, it’s an integrated tech platform with solutions for all organizations in the field of aging, from ALs and CCRCs to faith-based senior living communities and short-term rehabs. Smart medication reminders, dining menus and surveys, digital community calendars & more reduce staff workload so senior care organizations can deliver the quality of care their residents expect and deserve, regardless of staff size or labor market shortages. Download the IndependaTVe brochure now to discover how this technology can help your organization provide more care with fewer staff.
Infographic provided by Maryville University Online Nursing Program.
Key senior living operations are pioneering the path for other organizations by adopting innovative practices while others are recently catching on and working to become more innovative. Either way, everyone in the field of aging is benefitting from the progress being made. Read on to discover three critical ways the field of aging benefits from becoming more innovative.
1) Competition Provides Better Holistic Care
Senior living innovation drives greater care at a lower cost to improve quality of life for aging adults. Competition in the senior living industry leads to better care for all aging Americans. By becoming more innovative in how we provide care, other smart senior living organizations likewise adopt these practices to stay competitive as a useful resource for older adults. As a result of this race to the top, a greater number of aging Americans receive better care – not just for their bodies and minds, but for the person as a whole.
It has been documented by AARP in their Key Indicators of Well-Being 2012 survey and reported on by senior living communities like The Clairborne in their article on “The Benefits of a Holistic Approach to Senior Care” that there are connections between the body, mind and spirit; when one part of the three is in great shape, the other two are likely to be as well. Recognizing how this trifecta plays together is a huge part of person-centered care, and influential senior living operations are competing to discover innovative ways to deliver the best care based on the most current research.
As an added benefit, competition amongst senior living organizations to provide better, holistic care more efficiently and effectively is leading us towards that goal more quickly. This huge bonus is a game-changer since today’s seniors are able to reap the rewards instead of being forgotten in favor of the next generation of older adults.
2) Senior Living Innovation Decreases Operational Costs
From an organizational perspective, operational costs decrease as innovations are made in the field of aging. Although it’s true that there is an increase in operational costs in the short term as we collectively determine the right formula to deliver the best care, over the course of five to ten years, overall caregiving and operational costs decrease as we reduce inefficiencies.
Take a look at how much money your own organization may be spending on care delivery to seniors with more advanced needs, or wasting through disorganized staff administrative practices. These are real numbers we’re talking about and although nearly all of us in the field of aging are in it to provide the care that’s so desperately needed by our most vulnerable population, realistically we all rely on finances and funding to keep our organizations going. Fortunately, innovations made by all parts of the senior living industry – from real estate and CCRCs to eldercare technology and caregiving teams – will likewise benefit the field of aging as a whole.
Plus, streamlined organizations enjoy the additional benefit of increased finances available to take risks on new opportunities. Not only does risk-taking enable innovation and advance the field of seniorcare, but it simultaneously positions organizations as trusted brands, deeply invested in delivering the best possible care. Once senior living organizations reach the position where operational costs have significantly decreased, our industry will be able to continue iterating and adjusting as seniors’ needs change, leading to brighter futures for us all.
3) Innovation Improves Seniors’ Quality of Life
Purpose-driven senior living communities and organizations redefine aging through innovative ideas and operations. Consumers don’t feel limited by their wheelchairs or walkers; they feel free to move around. Seniors are treated with dignity and respect because the life plan community empowers them to lead their own lives while offering support when they need it.
Quality of life for seniors isn’t determined by a fresh coat of paint in their bedroom or an aquarium of colorful fish in the common room; it’s determined by how happy, healthy and cared-for each individual person feels. Innovative life plan communities value the person as an individual rather than prioritizing incomplete measures of happiness such as “Did we feed Resident X three times today? Did we clean their bedroom?” Instead they ask, “Did Joan enjoy chatting with Nurse Sally about their mutual fondness for yoga after exercise class? Did we treat her belongings gingerly – as if they were ours – while tidying up her personal space?”
Senior living innovation facilitates caring for the aging adult as a holistic person because of the new organizational practices and caregiver perspectives which emerge as a result. Older adults can finally enjoy the benefits of aging, such as exploring new hobbies they were too busy for during middle and older adulthood, because of innovative care delivery practices. Together, purpose-driven organizations and innovation in the field of aging improve quality of life for seniors.
Innovation in the Field of Aging
Innovation doesn’t solely benefit senior living operations, it provides real value to the people living in these communities to help them thrive. It’s absolutely necessary to the advancement of caregiving and care delivery practices. Innovative ideas and practices in the field of aging are changing real, human lives, like yours and mine, right now. It’s replacing outdated methods based on stale research with new approaches according to the latest scientific discoveries. As the field of aging continues to innovate, imagine where that innovation will take us in the next five years. Technology is rapidly developing – the only thing moving faster is innovative ideas.
You too can easily be an industry leader and innovator. To see how cost effective and easy this can be — download the IndependaTVe™ brochure and discover how this innovation can bring your senior living organization up to speed.
Warning Sign #1: Innovation is an Afterthought
Innovation must be a core pillar of your organization if you hope to withstand the changing tides in our industry. In a 2008 Business R&D and Innovation Survey from the National Science Foundation, only 2,000 of the 49,000 organizations in the real estate industry and 3,000 of the 183,500 organizations in health care services reported a new or significantly improved process in logistics, delivery and distribution methods. That’s 0.04% and 0.016% of organizations in each respective industry. Many senior living operations hold the power to become more innovative in their processes and drive that number up.
Organizational innovation in an industry as complex as ours is admittedly difficult, but nevertheless important to growth. While senior living organizations may vary in methods, innovation is the foundation upon which their workplace and business practices are built.
As an example, an innovative CCRC owner may research a competitor’s operational efficiencies or investigate a new technology that will help them distribute resources more effectively or cut down on operational costs. Being an innovative senior living operator has a lot to do with taking a highly “educated chance” to disrupting the status quo and developing better operational methods.
Warning Sign #2: Resource Allocation is Inefficient
Senior living operations facing the innovator’s dilemma recognize the issue of serving both current residents’ needs while preparing for their future needs. While the organization may currently be in the black, a disruption in the market could threaten future growth and success.
Inefficient resource allocation often occurs when a senior living community owner is faced with the threat of a new competitor. A new player in town may shine a light on service gaps and owners may divert funds and resources to compete – be it a new pool, landscaping enhancements or dining hall. These funds may be better invested to provide a better experience for residents in more innovative, impactful ways.
When innovation is part of the process, others react to the innovative community, and resources are not allocated inefficiently to react to market dynamics; in fact, innovators are those who are creating the market dynamics that others are responding to.
Warning Sign #3: The Innovation Process is Flawed
Without a process for innovation, senior living organizations may try to utilize processes that worked for other organizations, essentially trying to force-fit it into existing structures. These tactics rarely lead to innovative ideas or process improvements.
Another common issue is that the innovation process becomes sporadic, tied to the schedules or demands of a select few executives. Organizations should instead empower everyone in the company to develop innovative business practices. Empowerment means that frequent, small failures are more than tolerated, they are encouraged! It’s only through this spirit of innovation that true breakthrough improvements in workflow, process, and technology can take shape.
As an example, consider the assisted living executive who is keenly aware that their current healthcare delivery system is inefficient yet lacks sufficient time to address the issue. By empowering their team to create a new process, they are able to reach a solution more quickly and addresses the underlying problem as opposed to trying to solve the problem themselves.
By encouraging them to experiment and fail fast on the way towards success, the team is motivated to stay focused on their final goal, and is not concerned over the short-term learning experiences as they get there. People who are most connected to the issue often have the best ideas for an actionable solution, and solutions may not be transformative, or even viable, on the first few iterations. However, by leveraging the entire team, the company reaches an innovative solution more quickly.
Innovation in the Senior Living Industry
Do you agree or disagree with any of these three warning signs? Comment below with your thoughts.