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A senior care staff member sitting having tea with an elderly resident

Reducing Risk and Keeping Residents Safe

In life, taking risks every once in a while can be fun and exciting. But when it comes to keeping residents happy and healthy in senior living, risk taking is rarely the best course of action. Instead, it’s important for your community to do everything in its power to mitigate risk and guarantee that residents are healthy, happy, and safe.

Here are three things your community must do to reduce risk and keep residents safe:

1. Achieve Healthy Staffing Levels
Senior living communities are likely to underperform in one way or another if their staffing levels are off-balance. If a community has too few employees, for instance, it’s likely that residents won’t always receive exceptional care; if a community has too many employees, its finances are slightly more at risk, as it may be overspending on payroll.

If staff are providing residents with more care than communities have allotted, staff will be overworked and communities’ bottom lines will suffer, Dana Wollschlager, practice leader at Plante Moran Living Forward, noted during a presentation at the 2016 PointClickCare SUMMIT.

It’s also vital for providers to hire staff who bring important skills to the table. Community management should routinely determine whether current staff can adequately deal with residents’ acuity levels — or if it’s necessary to hire additional staff with different skill sets or certifications.

It may be time to hire another full-time registered nurse (RN), depending on your community’s average acuity level, even if it’s not required. That way, your community can guarantee it’s adapting to changing resident needs, as well as doing all it can to boost residents’ length of stay (and its bottom line).

2. Master Medication Management
Once a community has addressed its staffing levels, it’s critical for caregivers to master medication management — especially in communities that house residents with increasingly high acuity levels.

After all, administering medications at the wrong time, or giving residents the wrong medications altogether, can lead to resident discomfort, illness, or even death.

To best manage medications, communities should implement a central system where all staff can access important medication information at any time, day or night. This system should also be accessible from any place — even remotely, when staff aren’t at work. That way, community staff and management will always know residents’ current status, and will always be able to quickly and effectively find answers to any medication-related questions they may have. And, if residents are receiving care outside of the community, staff will be kept up-to-date.

Plenty of senior living communities have already caught on to the importance of medication management; almost 45% of not-for-profit providers in 2015 reported that they use medication monitoring technologies, which is up from 39% in 2014, according to the 2016 LeadingAge Ziegler 150 report.

3. Analyze Data For Trends
In case you haven’t already started, now is the time to start thinking critically about data, as it contains more helpful information than some communities may realize.

When senior living staff takes the time to document every little thing about a resident — when they take their medication, how they feel every morning, whether or not they finished their meals — it’s easier to determine any changes in that resident’s condition.

All that information can also be used to determine community-wide occurrences. By aggregating and analyzing all resident information, providers can identify their community’s population trends and adjust accordingly.

For example, if your community is seeing an increase in the number of residents experiencing cardiovascular ailments, how does that impact the skill requirements and scheduling of your staff? Perhaps you may need to work with an external agency instead of providing the services in-house? Or maybe the community could offer a program or class aimed at improving cardio health? No matter what the course of action is for addressing community-wide occurrences, providers must have data on their residents in order to address the needs of their community resident population.

There is a real need for integrated, connected technologies that allow providers to better manage their staffing, medication management, and data. Communities who leverage technology to document, monitor, and analyze important information are able to gain better insights on the state of their community, and can quickly determine if there are any risks that need to address. The more information your team can collect, the better. And it all starts on the day new residents move into their community.

By conducting better resident assessments, providers are able to set expectations and create a more personalized resident experience that drives revenue. Learn how by downloading our latest eBook: Improve the Resident Experience and Generate More Revenue with Better Assessments.

August 24, 2017