Designing Resident Safety Plans for Senior Care Facilities: Best Practices
Safety and emergency preparation are central pillars of the senior care industry, and resident safety plans are essential preparation pieces that every facility. A detailed, well-thought-out plan can enhance resident safety and also have important implications for marketing and family engagement.
The Benefits of Resident Safety Plans
Danielle Myers, general manager of Status Solutions, notes that resident safety plans have significant importance when it comes to attracting new residents and their families. “I think the senior living market has become pretty competitive,” she notes. “There are lots of new owner-operators building brand-new communities. We’re also coming out of a pandemic that has created some vacancies.
“From a differentiation perspective, we see lots of communities talking to prospective residents about their clinical care and safety plan. I think staffing makes all the difference. Safety is a broad topic, and it’s not something we can solve with a piece of hardware. It needs to be a strategic plan of how we get proactive, connect with people, and ensure loved ones of residents are taken care of.”
Myers highlights the importance of communicating with families. Clinical staff are pressured to be fully available to the residents, but when families couldn’t visit facilities during the pandemic, it highlighted how important family engagement is, too. “If you see a decline, if you have a special event going on, if you’re serving a loved one’s favorite dinner, a family can contribute to the family member’s health and well-being. Connecting them with that information – that is safety,” she explains. When residents aren’t engaging or are closing themselves off, it often leads to safety issues.
A technology-centered safety plan can have additional benefits. Myers notes that by becoming more digitally connected, a senior living community could see potential savings from going paperless. “We’re heading into the next evolution,” she says. “We have more seniors entering communities with tech devices like a smartphone or tablet. This is an opportunity to connect them in a new and different way.”
Designing an Ideal Resident Safety Plan
When designing a safety plan, Myers suggests that the plan include proactive information, rather than only taking a responsive approach. “A lot of things can be prevented. As we get older, we can tell pretty quickly if someone is declining. Typically, their mood and activity changes, and those can be big indicators that something’s going on and some intervention can happen prior to further decline,” she explains.
Choosing the right technology partner can also enhance a safety plan’s success and value. Myers encourages facilities to look for a technology partner that has subject matter expertise, and that understands the outcomes that they’re trying to drive through the use of technology. “We’re in a world of startups right now, and some people don’t really understand the senior living space,” she explains. “Choosing someone with the expertise and a track record is really important.”
Myers also suggests that, instead of focusing on a single product to solve a problem, a facility look for a partner with a platform that they can customize based on the use case and the particulars of the community. “Find a platform that pulls everything together into a single common platform to automate things, and to also make it easier to staff,” she says.
Finally, don’t forget to involve the residents as you create or improve your safety plans. Myers says she’s seen a lot of success when residents are involved in the creation of those plans. With the right technology partner, a facility can design a safety plan that pays off with increased resident safety, improved family connections, and more.
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