(MINNEAPOLIS) – For the senior living industry to become more responsive to the changing needs and expectations of residents and their families, it must undergo major changes. This was the overriding message at the Senior Living Executive Conference for Argentum members last week. At the conference, there was no shortage of new ideas and insights as attendees seemed eager to meet peers who have walked in their shoes and were willing to share and learn from each other. It’s clear that the senior living industry benefits from the diversity of backgrounds and perspectives gathered at the conference. We are better together.   

While senior living has been promoting the same socialization model to its residents for years, the pandemic has brought to light the need for more medical oversight of their residents. Operators were seeking actionable takeaways that could assist them in quickly revamping and rebuilding their communities to a model that is positioned to put residents at the center of everything they do. “What we’re seeing, what we have to do as an industry, is evolve into types of care,” Bickford Senior Living President Joe Eby said at the conference. “The resident is different, families are different, expectations are different.”   

Healthcare and senior communities are merging to provide data-driven resident insights and a more holistic view of residents to retain staff, improve occupancy, and reduce risk as they look to bring stability back to their industry. It was clear that these three themes captivated the audience at the Senior Living Executive Conference 2022. 

Recruit and Retain Staff

According to Darin Hull, EVP of Consulting at Health Dimensions Group, since the start of “The Great Resignation” labor participation in senior living has decreased to 62%, and median turnover has risen to 128%. The workforce has lost a great deal of workers with lower-skilled work knowledge. It is essential that operators offer training that is streamlined, easy to access and fast, while providing employees with the proper tools for the job. The treatment and development of new employees is crucial to any senior living community. 

It is also imperative to shift communication and workflow processes by adding or expanding technology options to reduce the burden on the staff that is already stretched to the limit. In addition, engaging employees and fostering a healthy workplace culture will help ensure long-term retention. Those who encourage team participation in decision making, eliminate bad apples and rebuild trust will keep staff happy and productive 

Build Back Occupancy

A brand-new era of senior living is upon us. Our new  world requires a revised approach to care for residents. With the average age of residents rising at the time of move in, families wanting more transparency, and the potential for new government regulations coming, it is clear that health and wellbeing must be prioritized to return to pre-pandemic occupancy levels. Sixty-three percent (63%) of potential residents and families are now asking about risk mitigation practices and ways to minimize infections, falls, and other incidents. Technology can detect trends early via machine learning and artificial intelligence, so communities can prevent issues before they arise.  

Today’s families and residents have grown accustomed to technology that makes their lives easier, such as voice commands, telehealth and smartphones. Now is the time to set realistic expectations on the social and medical capabilities of your senior living community, and how you plan to expand in the future.  

Reduce Risk

In light of the recent funding provided by the government, we are already seeing an increase in government focus and regulations. Data collection will play an instrumental role in the industry’s long-term success in stabilizing staffing and providing better health and wellbeing oversight. Furthermore, increased data will streamline tasks, and the insights gleaned can assist staff in becoming more efficient and providing better care for residents.  

 To assist with data collection, many are turning to technology. As a result of increased investments in technology, there is also the potential for improved communication between staff and third-party providers and the reduction of incidents and fatalities due to better discreet monitoring and proactive insights. As a result, companies that adopt new technologies will be better prepared for future challenges and developments  

The Future of Senior Living Looks Bright

There is a lot of change coming to the industry, however, senior living has a bright future ahead. Nearly 2,000 senior living leaders attended the Senior Living Executive Conference this year, according to Argentum. Merril Gardens President, Tana Gill, believes the industry is in a time of opportunity and optimism. “Ultimately, we need transformational change; but there will be a lot of little changes along the way,” Gall said during a discussion of C-Suite executives. Adding, “I’ve never been more optimistic about this industry.”