Larry Carlson, CEO of United Methodist Communities understands that this past year has been a strong reminder that the number one priority for every senior living community is resident safety. Ensuring safety can be a complex effort, however, no matter how many moving parts there are, there is one universal truth: safety comes down to trust.
And to really have trust – not just the perception of trust – communities need to have the tough conversations.
What is United Methodist Communities?
United Methodist Communities has a faith-based, non-profit mission to provide New Jersey seniors the security, health care, and socialization that creates the abundant lifestyle they deserve.
When it comes to providing exceptional senior care, Carlson and his staff at United Methodist Communities do not view anything as an untouchable conversation. His feeling is that if a topic is not talked about, then there is something wrong. Instead, Carlson and his staff embrace transparency, something his residents have come to appreciate and expect. It makes them feel like their concerns are understood and gives them the confidence to have more conversations in general, which increases engagement.
These tough conversations prove that communication enables trust. However, Carson believes there is a better way to enable communication. The solution to this problem: technology.
Over the past year, technology has allowed communities to engage and inform families more efficiently.
“I think the other thing that we really learned through the pandemic is how to increase the trust factor between our communities and our family members,” Carlson said. “And that was really driven by technology.”
Technology has allowed greater access to events. The Family Council meetings United Methodist Communities regularly holds has increased from roughly eight families to 75 families in attendance with the introduction of a Zoom option. Carlson has seen the impact readily available technology can have on the quality of senior living compared to those communities who do not have technology that is accessible.They plan on keeping the Family Council meetings virtual in order to maintain the increased communication and continue building trust.
“The families have really appreciated the fact that they can tune in once a week with the executive director and find out exactly what’s going on,” Carlson said. “As a result, I think the trust factor has increased.”
While technology has its clear benefits, many senior living communities are still hesitant to implement it. After seeing the positive impact technology has on building trust and improving communication, Carlson offers two simple pieces of advice to get over this hurdle.
First, don’t be afraid of tech. And secondly, realize technology isn’t magical. It has its limitations. That’s why a community should try a bunch of different technologies to understand their options. But, it’s important to understand that it’s difficult to get it right the first time.
Of course at the end of the day technology is just a tool. It still needs great people to make it work well. Senior living communities, like United Methodist Communities, that empower their staff to have the tough conversations and give them the technology to adapt to those conversations, will find that their people – both resident and staff – will have the best experience possible.
Eversound offers advanced listening technology that enables staff at senior living communities to engage in the tough conversations with residents, resulting in better engagement within the community and an improved quality of life.
Approximately 65% of senior living community residents have untreated hearing loss which impacts meaningful conversations, engagement and social connectedness. Eversound’s innovative technology is one way senior living communities can provide exceptional care for residents and ensure the tough conversations are had in any circumstance.