Nov 22 2023

LeadingAge23: Adapting to New Residents and Workforce Needs in Senior Care

Aging-services leaders discuss how technology can transform workflows so that organizations are more agile and prepared for future challenges.

Staffing shortages remain top of mind for leaders of senior care organizations across the country as the demand for care is expected to increase.

Workforce challenges in senior care were prevalent even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but they have since been exacerbated. In September, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced a proposed rule to change nurse staffing requirements at long-term care facilities, including having an onsite registered nurse available around the clock. However, according to research from the Kaiser Family Foundation, fewer than 1 in 5 nursing facilities could now meet the required number of hours for RNs and nurses’ aides, which means a majority of facilities would need to hire more nursing staff.

During November’s LeadingAge 2023 Annual Meeting and Expo in Chicago, senior care leaders discussed strategies for meeting residents’ expectations, attracting and retaining employees, and the role technology plays in keeping staff members at their organizations.

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Technological Upgrades to Meet Resident Demand

Older adults have changing expectations: They’re more tech savvy than previous generations and may enter independent living communities with more devices. They may also require more access to care to help manage multiple chronic conditions.

So, how can senior care organizations meet the demands of current and prospective residents while also engaging and satisfying a stressed workforce?

Technology plays a key role in achieving these goals. Even something as seemingly straightforward as upgrading infrastructure or high-speed internet access can have a big impact. Joel Snyder, CIO at the Rochester, N.Y.-based Friendly Senior Living, shared that his organization saw improvements after upgrading its network and boosting bandwidth.

DIVE DEEPER: Learn why senior care organizations should invest in updated network infrastructure.

“Providing those services, we’ve been able to reduce costs, but we’ve also increased resident satisfaction,” Snyder said.

For the RiverWoods Group, a New Hampshire-based organization with three communities and more than 1,000 residents, CIO David Lafferty said that residents are more technologically sophisticated — prospective residents even want to know details about the Wi-Fi. It’s crucial for senior care organizations to understand resident preferences and anticipate their needs.

Click the banner below to learn how senior care technology supports caregivers and older adults.

Using Technology to Satisfy the Senior Care Workforce

Senior care organizations should take advantage of automation and artificial intelligence to augment their workforces, said Steven VanderVelde, director of senior living partnership at ProviNET Solutions. This goes beyond using robots in dining areas. What redundant tasks could be done by bots? Where can passive patient monitoring be used? How can organizations improve IT strategic planning so that they can actually make use of software integrations?

Aaron Fields, CIO of the Rochester, N.Y.-based St. Ann’s Community, explained how his organization turned to automation to assign single sign-on employee accounts and provide accessible documentation for work-related questions amid heavy staff turnover. He noted that senior care organizations must adapt to a changing workforce. “Show me a 22-year-old that wants to make a phone call,” he said.

Fields highlighted a same-day pay solution with a payroll provider. “It’s that empathy. It’s meeting staff where they’re at and understanding what’s important to them,” he said.

READ MORE: How to connect rural communities to aging services.

Mary Lynn Spalding, president and CEO of Christian Care Communities, said that her organization offers same-day pay for employees and a rewards system in which high-performing employees can earn points for Amazon purchases.

Employees want to feel valued, Spalding said, and technology can facilitate that. She shared that the HR management tool her organization uses supports active retention strategies: If it appears that an employee is at risk of leaving the organization, the team can address issues as they arise.

“Set up your technology with reports that you’re actually going to use. Do not waste your money,” she advised.

Ultimately, senior care organizations must talk directly with employees about what’s meaningful to them. “Celebrating staff and recognition is incredibly important,” said Peter Corless, executive vice president of enterprise development at OnShift, a senior care HR software company.

Keep this page bookmarked for our coverage of the 2023 LeadingAge Annual Meeting and EXPO, taking place Nov. 5-8 in Chicago. Follow us on X (formerly Twitter) at @HealthTechMag and join the conversation at #LeadingAge23.

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