What aspects of the COVID environment are here to stay?
COVID has ushered in an era of the “new normal” across the world. Hybrid and remote work models are becoming the standard for office workers. Peletons and online workout classes are replacing gym memberships. GrubHub and UberEats have changed our eating habits. Even the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) has embraced flexibility by moving operations online!
Senior living communities have seen plenty of change since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. There’s now a “new normal” for senior residences: safety and flexibility are core tenets, and the structure of day-to-day life in communities is changing. Life in senior living communities won’t look exactly as it did during the peak of the pandemic, but certain key aspects are here to stay.
Let’s explore six practices borrowed from the COVID world that senior living leaders can use to foster a healthy community moving forward:
1. Embrace telemedicine
At least one-third of doctor visits for patients 60 years or older will be virtual by the end of the pandemic, according to Dr. Ronan Factora of the Cleveland Clinic.
Telemedicine lets residents maintain vital communication with their doctors while remaining comfortable in their rooms. The extra time and work of commuting to the medical practice and sitting in the waiting room can be greatly reduced.
In addition to convenience, telemedicine offers added transparency and involvement for families of seniors. Sons, daughters, and other family members can join a Zoom call to stay updated on their loved ones.
2. Reconsider your engagement plan
Residents no longer have to leave their rooms to feel connected with neighbors or engage in their favorite activities. Community leaders can bring the engagement to their residents by tapping into the growing network of technology that’s tailor-made to increase engagement in senior living communities.
Jonathan Cook, President/CEO of LifeSpire Living in Virginia is a great example of an innovative community leader. Cook overhauled his communities’ engagement plan by deploying fitness classes on residents’ TVs and taking advantage of outdoor spaces with heated tents and patio dining. What was a necessity during COVID became a new and exciting plan to keep residents feeling connected and energized. Solutions like Eversound can ensure engagement even when physical distancing and mask wearing are required.
3. Sanitize, Sanitize, Sanitize
Feeling safe means feeling clean for many seniors. Cleanliness measures from during the pandemic may feel like overkill, but they’re often best practices that make residences feel comfortable.
The truth is, COVID-19 has ushered in new standards of sanitization; thirty-two states now list infection control as a necessary training component for staff in senior living communities, according to The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (JAMDA).
Extra hand sanitizer stations, sanitation kits in every transport vehicle, and increased distance at gatherings are a few small steps towards cleanliness. Contactless tools like temperature-check kiosks, entryway UV lighting, and ongoing testing of residents, staff, and visitors can be maintained in the future. Borrowing procedures from the height of the pandemic can help prepare communities for any future outbreaks, and even defend against common illness in future flu seasons.
4. Reimagine physical spaces
Social distancing isn’t everyone’s favorite concept. It did, however, spur creativity for how senior community leaders utilize their space.
Auditorium-like environments might phase out in favor of engagement areas for small groups. Grab-and-go dining stations can offer flexibility to those who don’t prefer sit down meals.
Tod Petty, COO of Lloyd Jones Senior Living, is one industry leader noticing new trends. Seniors and their families are less willing to pay for fancy fireplaces and opulent architecture. They’re now focused on a safe environment with expert care. Decision makers should capitalize on this new resident focus.
5. Be flexible when managing staff
Flexible and technology-led practices can apply beyond the walls of your senior residence community. To attract the best talent, every business has to be willing to allow hybrid or remote work. Leaders can find the best fit for their communities by branching beyond their geographic location for the best instructors, doctors, and consultants.
There are, of course, many staff positions that must be on-premises at your community. Allowing smaller measures like team meetings over Zoom and more flexible schedules can make a difference. The hiring process can be remote-first to save time on in person meetings with early-stage candidates.
Related Content: Three Tips For Recruiting Staff at a Senior Living Community
6. Value feedback from your community
It’s no secret that everyone had to sacrifice and come together during the pandemic. Ride that collective spirit to build your community in the vision of all stakeholders: residents, family, friends, and staff.
Survey your residents to see how they’d prefer to participate in engagement activities, and provide options for those with different preferences. Let staff have input on which technology should be implemented, and when. Decision makers have the final approval, of course, but a healthy community takes everyone’s desires into account.
How Eversound can help
Untreated hearing loss is a common problem in senior living communities. It leads to isolation of residents and takes away from an otherwise healthy environment. Now more than ever, providing assistance for those with hearing loss can be a differentiator for your community.
Eversound is advanced hearing technology that helps your community stay connected by increasing engagement and resident participation. It’s a great technology-led solution for leaders looking to foster a flexible atmosphere post-COVID, and help their residents enjoy life more.
Learn more about how Eversound can help your senior living community.