How Senior Living Operators Can Worry Less About Resident Retention

Resident retention is always among the foremost business concerns for a senior housing operator, and with good reason. According to the most recent numbers, the median annual resident turnover across all assisted living residences stands at nearly 50 percent. Other forms of senior housing have historically shown similar figures.

Resident retention is serious business. There’s the nickel-and-dime reality: Residences that sit empty during turnaround times do not generate income. Even more profound is the operational implication. Typically, turnover either than means that someone’s health has declined, or that they are dissatisfied with their arrangements.

Every responsible operator will worry about resident retention. Fortunately, there are a number of tools available to help them worry less.

It starts with staff.

Resident retention is the product of multiple factors including health, happiness and social connectedness. All of these can be viewed, understood and managed through the wider aperture of staff training and expertise.

When staff members are trained to understand and respond to residents’ needs, when residents are greeted by familiar faces and treated as individuals, retention inevitably benefits. Residents typically more content in their daily situation when staff are fully qualified. They are also more likely to tell someone if their physical needs are changing or their mood is altering, if they feel that speaking up will make a difference.

Senior care is a people business, and any effort to manage retention must begin with the people on the front lines: Give staff the training and the resources they need to perform.

Falls are a crucial metric.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10- to 20 percent of falls in senior care settings cause serious injuries, and 2- to 6 percent cause fractures. To manage turnover and maximize retention, it’s vital to show strong success in this critical area of wellness.

Technology can help here, especially with the implementation of sensor-driven, passive monitoring systems designed to conduct automated fall risk assessments. Providers are now better able to calculate the likelihood of an imminent fall, and to warn caregivers to take preventive action. Powered by cutting-edge artificial intelligence, such systems can help to keep staff engaged in residents’ ongoing conditions, thus keeping residents safer and ultimately helping to ensure higher retention rates.

Reaching out to loved ones.

While turnover in senior housing often is the result of a declining medical condition, it’s also true that retention is contingent upon the resident experience. By and large, a satisfied population is a stable population. For many seniors, this means having the ability to maintain rich and meaningful social ties beyond the care setting.

Here too, technology can help. Pulling together a range of connectivity tools, a modern communications portal can give seniors single click access to email, video chat and other means of keeping in touch. This helps to keep family and friends close at hand, while other portal features such as shared calendars can help those in senior housing to maintain social ties with their neighbors, even in cases where limited mobility might otherwise make this difficult.

Senior housing operators have good reason to worry about retention: Turnover is both a drain on the bottom line and, sometimes, an indicator of weak points within the operation. By combining good technologies and smart business practices, it’s possible to keep retention high while ensure a housing facility is running in peak performance mode.

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