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How to Optimize Staffing Levels and Keep Residents Healthier

The average assisted living resident is on nine different medications, they’re entering communities later in life, and they require more assistance with activities of daily living than ever before. And though staff in assisted living communities interact with lower-need residents than their skilled nursing counterparts, determining which staff members should care for which resident is still a major undertaking.

Figuring out how much time residents should spend with their caregivers is another huge challenge, and senior living communities stand to waste resources if these factors are miscalculated.

As it turns out, management at some senior living communities may not be approaching their staffing in the most valuable way. But, by reevaluating their priorities, they can optimize staffing levels and keep residents healthier, longer.

Occupancy vs. Acuity
When staffing a senior living community, management tends to consider current occupancy and resident acuity above all. Though it may seem obvious to consider current or future occupancy when deciding how many, and which, caregivers to hire, that actually isn’t the best way.

According to Dana Wollschlager, practice leader at Plante Moran Living Forward, senior living communities should aim to adjust their staffing levels to their current residents’ level of health because it’s critically important to have staff that can meet residents’ care needs, no matter what they may be.

To accomplish this, community management should regularly check whether existing staff can properly deal with residents’ evolving acuity levels, or if it’s time to hire additional staff with new certifications or skill sets. It’s not helpful to have a caregiver for each resident if they can’t care for their various conditions.

In order to determine whether staff are being scheduled appropriately, management should enable them to electronically record all of the care they deliver, right after they deliver it. That way, management can determine if caregivers are spending too much or too little time with a resident.

By hiring with acuity levels in mind, it’s also easier to avoid over-staffing. If a community employs too many caregivers, it risks overspending on payroll Wollschlager adds.

How to Optimize For Success
To provide the best care while saving on cost, assisted living communities should align their residents’ care needs to the unique skills of their care staff. This means no extra time spent delivering care, and assigning staff to residents with conditions they’re familiar with, or with whom they have the most experience.

With the right technology, this becomes easier. By leveraging the appropriate solution, assisted living communities can effectively schedule their staff with these goals in mind, leading to improved predictability of resource requirements and optimized staffing levels throughout their organization.

To learn how PointClickCare can help you achieve this level of organizational success, check out our website.

January 16, 2018