Senior communities focus intensely on lead generation – bringing in new residents. Every large senior community has a several front end staff whose main role is to shepherd in new residents. No doubt, lead-gen is important. It’s the nature of the business that assisted living residents will often graduate to a nursing home or pass away. The role of the provider is to minimize these incidents, as well as the incidents when a resident moves away for more elective reasons.
As simple as it sounds, remember that a resident who does not move out is just as important as the one who moves in. In other words, a focus on resident retention should be just as energetic as a focus on lead-gen to optimize occupancy rates.
Avoiding Resident Exits at Senior Living
Here are five essential strategies for resident retention:
1. Nurturing staff relationships:
All the cutting edge technology in the world cannot make up for a lack of good old fashioned friendliness. When reading reviews of senior communities written by residents and families on sites like SeniorAdvisor.com, it’s apparent that friendliness of staff is a trait that residents and their loved ones value, arguably, above all others. From med-tech to executive director, genuine, unpretentious friendliness should be the norm.
Residents stay when staff are friendly and strong bonds are built. Every resident has a favorite caregiver. But residents struggle to connect with staff when turnover is high. Senior living executives may find that keeping staff happy results in better resident retention.
2. Developing resident relationships:
Seniors adapt most readily to a community when they feel connected with their fellow residents. There is that word “connectedness” again. Feeling “connected” is key to aging well. Communities should facilitate resident social interactions by including a variety of common areas among their community for residents to enjoy, forming welcoming committees for new residents, and considering dining room seating policies that ensure all residents feel welcomed and have a chance to make new friends.
3. Resident-centered entertainment:
Entertainment is another important way to foster connectedness and happiness, which are cornerstones of a good quality of life, and hence resident retention. The entertainment that’s right for any given community will vary based on the unique makeup of its resident population, so providers are wise to identify the types of entertainment that their residents enjoy most, from visiting musicians and lecturers, to video game systems like the Xbox Kinect or Nintendo Wii, and incorporate them into their activities program. A cookie cutter approach to entertaining senior living residents is not likely to be successful.
4. Focus on Falls:
Fall prevention will go along way towards retaining residents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10% to 20% of falls in senior care settings cause serious injuries, and 2% to 6% cause fractures. These types of injuries frequently require a senior to move to a higher level of care. Today, many communities are utilizing ambient, sensor based technologies that can automate fall risk assessment and prevent falls. These advanced technologies passively monitor multiple key fall risk indicators and automatically calculate far more accurate fall risk scores.
Powered by cutting edge AI, it will alert both staff and family when a resident enters an elevated or high risk status, allowing steps to be taken to intervene and prevent more falls from occurring. And should a fall happen (they can’t all be stopped), it will alert staff and family immediately, including infrared video evidence of the circumstances that led to the fall, as well as the fall itself. This allows staff to respond faster with better information for emergent care, and review all events over time so that fall prevention strategies can be continuously improved for individuals and the community as a whole.
5. Fitness programs:
A sedentary lifestyle among seniors is linked to falls and numerous other ailments, while physical activity is tied to decreased falls and improved wellbeing. Healthy residents are happy residents, and happy residents do not move out. Providers that take fitness seriously, and go the extra mile to get residents involved with fitness programs, see dividends in resident retention.
According to the National Center for Assisted Living, the average stay at assisted living is 22 months. How does your community measure up? And what would it mean if you could nearly double length of stay?