How Senior Living Leaders Can Address Their Labor Shortages
Senior living communities must reinvent their systems to manage hospitality services with a reduced workforce
Families want to be families, not caregivers. And caregivers want to be caregivers, not file clerks. Unfortunately, with the recent staffing shortfalls within the senior living industry, nearly everyone is feeling overwhelmed and upset.
The COVID-19 pandemic has sent the senior living industry into a tailspin. According to a recent survey from the American Health Care Association (a nonprofit federation of groups representing long-term care facilities), only one quarter of nursing homes and assisted living communities are confident they can last for more than a year within the current economic climate and that survey discovered that more than half of nursing homes and nearly half of assisted living facilities are currently operating at a loss.
Many senior living communities are struggling. There is no hiding from the facts, but there are things they can be doing to reinvent themselves, ensuring a stronger future. That's where tech-forward platforms like WayWiser that allow for easier communication flow between caregivers, senior living administrators, residents and their families come into play.
Nearly every senior living community has had to make staffing cuts to stay afloat over the past 18 months while simultaneously seeing prized members of their teams flee to other industries for better pay and shorter hours. Striking changes like these are making personalized care and communications with residents' families exceedingly difficult, causing a slow, but steady downfall of many facilities.
Communicating updates from medication changes to community events to a loved one's vaccination status is a long and drawn-out process, often depending on hours of telephone calls. Finding a way to streamline dialogue with a reduced workforce has become a clear and present challenge.
Exacerbating the situation that many senior living facilities have found themselves in, sons and daughters are pulling their parents from the communities, opting for at-home care out of a combination of COVID-19 worries and diminished faith in the system itself. In addition, 84% of nursing homes are losing revenue due to fewer post-acute patients coming from hospitals.
It's hitting from all angles, but solutions do exist.
The best senior living communities have always walked a fine line between health care and hospitality. But that delicate balance has become misaligned due to staffing shortages and the lag behind modern technologies expected in the service industry.
If any benefits have come from the pandemic, one is certainly the universal leap forward in technological implementations. For instance, QR-coded menus at restaurants and video conferencing with friends and colleagues have now become a norm. But what has changed within senior living?
Apps like WayWiser are now helping the senior living landscape in the same way other industries are advancing from smart technology. They are assisting the labor gap with modernized tools that help with the industry's distinct needs.
Now, caregivers and facility administrators are able to communicate at scale with their residents and families, sharing vital information, announcements or even daily updates, events or images. Family members are kept informed about their loved ones without hassle and can quickly respond to caregiving questions with the ease of their private messaging channels, even uploading vaccination records or other pertinent information that facility administrators may need.
While many senior living community directors are hopeful that continued relief from the government will help keep them afloat, industry leaders are realizing that a sea change is upon them. The reality is that many of these communities have been squeaking by on antiquated systems and the pandemic has thrust them into a situation where they must reinvent themselves by investing in technology.
The ability to offer a communication tool for staff and residents' families is not just an added benefit, it's the tourniquet needed to survive in this new normal.
Launching in late 2021, WayWiser is a multi-platform application that connects people within a Trusted Circle™ and provides the tools and guidance needed to protect and coordinate the financial independence and dignity of loved ones as they age.