Too frequently, “care for frail older people is reactive, fragmented and does not meet patients’ needs,” say the authors of a recently published study on the benefits of proactive care for the elderly. Indeed, a reactive approach towards senior care has been dominant in the industry for decades due to the inherently demanding nature of the business. Without the tools, technologies and managerial perspectives to promote proactive care, providers have historically found that attending to residents’ immediate care needs commanded almost all of their resources.
But today, reactive care is becoming a relic as attitudes begin to favor a more proactive, resident-centered approach, and as the tools and technologies to promote a proactive approach have become more available to senior communities. Senior living providers that adopt a proactive approach see marked improvements in resident quality of life, and also in key competitive KPIs such as length of stay. Conversely, providers that are stuck in the old paradigm of reactive care fall short of their full potential to improve senior’s quality of life, and will ultimately lose their competitive edge as players in the senior living space.
Here are four ways proactive care is changing the senior living space and bettering resident’s quality of life:
1. Proactive Care Provides a New Outlook.
Proactive care does not work without an outlook that fundamentally breaks from obsolete, reactive approaches towards senior care. This requires that staff, from the caregiver on up to the CEO, recognize the importance of anticipating the needs of residents before they have arisen, which is more feasible than ever with new technologies. It also requires that each and every senior community take seriously the task of developing and executing a unique, personally tailored care plan for every resident.
2. Preventing Falls and Detecting Illnesses Early.
Artificial intelligence powered, sensor-based passive monitoring technology is beginning to revolutionize senior care. Properly implemented, it can detect changes in clinical health indicators that signify an increased risk of fall, or even of pressure ulcers for those less mobile. Similarly, these passive health monitoring tools facilitate early illness detection by monitoring vital signs and other indicators, all without intruding on the resident’s privacy or comfort. Such tools allow providers to intervene with appropriate care plans and prevent many negative health events – or at least minimize their impact.
3. Admitting the Right Residents to Senior Living.
A serious issue within in the senior living industry, particularly among assisted living providers, has been the admittance of residents who come to require more care than the community can legally or practically provide. When seniors are admitted to a community that’s not appropriate for their current and anticipated needs, their health and wellbeing is put at risk, and they soon find that they have to move to a higher level of care. This is not helpful to the senior or the provider.
Providers that approach their role proactively will realistically assess the care needs of prospective residents so that they do not admit residents who will soon require a level of care that is not compatible with that which the community is able to provide. This is dependent on providers approaching admissions with a proactive mindset, and conducting a thorough, unbiased assessment of the resident’s needs prior to admission.
4. Increased Length of Stay and Occupancy Rate.
The approaches outlined above are ultimately good for business because they lead to an increased length of stay, which improves occupancy rates. When senior communities approach their role proactively, the occasions when residents must move elsewhere due to falls or unexpected health crises become far less frequent.
Communities with a proactive and preventative focus also attract more new residents. Consumers select communities that offer them the most hope, and communities with a proactive approach towards care (and the tools and technologies to execute that approach) present the most attractive option to residents and their families. Seniors and their loved ones seek communities where “resident centered care” and “aging in place” are more than just nice-sounding catchphrases and buzzwords.
Senior living providers that approach care with a proactive mission – and possess the technologies to support that mission – are able to offer care of a quality that’s not been seen before. A proactive and preventative approach can also give providers a marked competitive edge in their market. Proactive care not only improves quality of care and enhances resident quality of life, but strengthens the provider’s business, positioning them for a more sustainable future.