Senior living communities face the unique challenge of providing medical aid, comfortable accommodations, activities, amenities, and wellness support for seniors. It’s a wholly unique industry that includes overlapping elements from the hospitality, medical, and hospital industries. Compounding this challenge is the continuing COVID-19 pandemic that has caused severe losses within many senior care facilities from the tragic loss of resident lives to financial losses to the wellbeing of staff. Even throughout this dark time, however, senior living communities have prioritized safety and maintaining high-quality resident care, a responsibility to those residents entrusted to their care.
Moreover, senior living communities have committed to earning a high resident satisfaction rate. To be successful in elder care, your senior living community must have a high resident satisfaction rate. With sub-par resident satisfaction, you’ll garner a poor reputation, and families won’t feel comfortable placing their aging parents with your facility.
In short, an effective resident satisfaction strategy is essential to your facility’s success in the elder care industry and goes beyond what your life enrichment or activity programming team does. Resident satisfaction needs to be a focus for every member of your community’s team. This guide is the perfect resource to discover the best new ways to increase resident satisfaction and bolster your community’s reputation. Let’s dive in!
Strategize for Change
As we move into the post-pandemic phase, it’s crucial for senior living communities to update their resident satisfaction strategies. Ensuring that residents enjoy a high quality of life, is now more important than ever, after the toll the pandemic has taken on their daily lives. Isolation, anxiety, and depression among residents had been increasing due to the lack of in-person visitation, social-distancing requirements, and fears about contracting the disease. Moving forward, the elder care industry must shift its standard practices to effectively address the negative impact of the pandemic and the changes its end will bring and learn from new approaches that were used during the pandemic.
Building an effective strategy starts with education. In this case, familiarizing yourself with emerging trends in the elderly care industry is the best way to build a solid foundation for your new resident satisfaction strategy. Here are the most important emerging trends in elder care.
Technology Use in Elder Care
Technology has long-since been expected to infiltrate virtually every industry, so its rapid rise in senior care communities isn’t all that surprising. What’s remarkable about its increased usage in senior living communities is how much it can help to increase residents’ quality of life.
Tools like fitness trackers and smartwatches can motivate seniors to stay active and compete against other residents or loved ones. Digital assistants like Alexa, Google Home, or Siri can help with reminders, alarms, scheduling, making calls, contacting care staff and more, which can be invaluable for memory care residents. Additionally, for those residents suffering from hearing loss, new digital solutions serve as a powerful intervention tool to help maximize engagement.
Residents can also seek treatment from their primary care providers through telehealth platforms, making care more accessible and safely socially-distanced. Many seniors have faced interruptions in care and anxiety about returning to a doctor’s office during the pandemic. Telemedicine empowers elderly patients by putting professional care at their fingertips. In short, technology, as a rapidly emerging force in the elderly care industry, has already had a significantly positive impact.
A New Focus on Wellness
Senior living facilities are responsible for maintaining and enhancing residents’ quality of life, so the shift toward a new focus on wellness is only natural. The wellness sector prioritizes taking an active approach to living a fulfilling, meaningful, and happy life. Unfortunately, as we reach an advanced age, it becomes more difficult to pursue wellness. Those simple things like listening to music, living with loved ones, or taking long walks become challenging due to hearing loss, increased medical assistance, and joint trouble.
That’s why senior living communities must prioritize wellness by helping residents overcome obstacles that prevent them from pursuing activities that make them happy and healthy. Emphasizing wellness programs that focus on education, physical fitness, social interaction, nutrition, and health education has become the standard.
Get Back to the Basics. It’s a People Business!
It’s all laid out in the golden rule. “Treat people the way you want to be treated.” This principle applies in all areas of life, including the running of an assisted living facility or nursing home. As a leader and owner, you must ensure that both staff and residents are treated well.
Though residents and staff aren’t typically thought of as customers in the traditional sense, the same principles of providing exceptional customer service apply in this situation, not least because of the strong cause-and-effect relationship between staff and resident satisfaction. Studies have shown that investing in your staff and treating them well boosts resident satisfaction. This is not a surprising find, but it’s exceedingly valuable.
Satisfied staff create a more positive service environment and make residents feel more comfortable voicing their opinions and concerns. Moreover, providing professional development opportunities for staff members can lead to better job performance and increased job satisfaction.
In addition to residents, staff at senior living communities suffered losses and anxiety surrounding the suddenly dangerous nature of their job. Even as we are vaccinating staff and residents against the disease, it’s vital to prioritize safety and prevention as a means of staff care. Providing PPE, sharing information, and being understanding during these troubling times goes a long way toward demonstrating your appreciation and gratitude for staff even post-pandemic.
The bottom line? Treating both residents and staff like VIPs leads to positive and beneficial outcomes for both parties and your facility as a whole.
Create a Strong Brand and Digital Presence
Effective marketing is a vital aspect of any business, even elder care facilities. Following marketing trends and research indicates that digital marketing is one of the most effective and powerful means of marketing a product. The key element to remember is that you have to do the work to demonstrate that your assisted living facility is one that will keep families’ loved ones safe, well-cared for, and happy in their later years.
Now is the time to establish a strong digital presence for your care facility, if you don’t already have one. Here are some key elements that will help you achieve this goal.
- Speak to the family.This is likely who will be searching online for the best care home for their loved one. Use language that speaks to them and their concerns about choosing a care home for their beloved family member. This is also the time to set families at ease by clearly explaining the steps you are taking to keep residents and staff safe during the pandemic. It is also important to emphasize what you are doing to keep residents engaged while physical distancing requirements are in place and. Be sure to include multiple ways for families to contact your facility and actually speak to a person.
- Be open and honest. Addressing families’ concerns and questions can be challenging, but it’s essential. Being open and honest enables families to make an informed decision when determining whether your home is best for their loved one. Additionally, you gain insight into customer needs and expectations to act on in the future.
- Show resident success. This is the best way to demonstrate all that you can offer potential residents. It’s the practical application of letting your actions speak louder than your words. Whether by allowing families to tour your facility or having residents create their own success stories, real-life examples are powerful ways to bolster your reputation.
- Create a Virtual Tour: Senior living facilities have had to get creative when advertising during the pandemic. They’ve begun to use technology to create virtual live tours of the facility to walkthrough with family caregivers who don’t live locally and adhere to COVID precautions. Family caregivers gain a live view of the facility, which can make them more comfortable with the idea of your community as a place for their loved one.
Stay on Top of and Leverage New Technologies
Studies have shown that a higher number of activities and exercise options in senior living communities directly correlates with increased resident satisfaction. As stated earlier, technology makes it easier for members of the elderly community to pursue wellness in all its forms. But remember it is important to make your programming accessible to all residents.
As a community leader, keeping up with new technology that can benefit residence is crucial. Investing in this tech can greatly improve both resident satisfaction and quality of life, particularly as it can address some of the losses that residents have faced during the pandemic and enhance their experiences as restrictions are lifted.