In early January, McKnight’s Senior Editor Lois Bowers published a post on 5 trends for Senior Living in 2018. She consulted Lisa McCracken, Senior VP of Senior Living R&D for specialty bank Ziegler, to offer insight – since she frequently has the ear of CFOs and others at senior living communities.
Bowers’ post discussed changing business models, ongoing industry consolidation, new financing approaches and technology as key impacts on the sector moving forward. It also mentioned staffing and workforce issues as a continuing challenge. This particular quote caught our eye:
Operators would do well to address the basics, McCracken said. “In addition to compensating people well, you’ve got to know how to engage with your staff and provide a meaningful workplace,” she said. “Really think of your staff as customers just as much as your residents and your patients.”
This point really resonated with us. We talk a lot about end-user experience in our business and when we do we are referring to two areas: 1) resident experience, and 2) employee engagement and satisfaction.
In this day and age, technology plays a growing role for both audiences in the senior care sector.
- Residents are increasingly tech savvy and have certain expectations when it comes to amenities when they look for a senior living community. Would you be willing to give up Wi-Fi access because you are moving to a new place? We didn’t think so.
- It’s no secret that the sector has staffing issues. Recruitment and retention are real challenges for operators across the spectrum. Equipping teams with the right technology is important – streamlining tasks and enabling efficiency.
BUT. And this is a big but – handing the latest and greatest over to your staff isn’t enough.
We’ve seen too often, a well-intentioned facility wanting to roll out mobility to staff, but not taking the time to ensure current infrastructure can handle the load of extra mobile devices. Ensuring you have solid, secure Wi-Fi networks with good coverage has to be the starting point for any technology strategy in senior care.
The other, often missing, piece of the puzzle involves McCracken’s comment above – treating staff like customers. What we are talking about is giving them the tools they need to succeed. Things like training (which should be ongoing) and support whenever they need it.
Full disclosure, we are in the business of providing end-user support. That means we know exactly the kinds of calls and tickets that come in to our service desk from senior care staff – at all hours, around the clock. We handle thousands of incidents every month – everything from account setup, to password resets, to desktop, laptop and device issues.
Pretty basic issues – but issues that, if not resolved quickly, mean someone can’t do their job properly using the technology they are supposed to use. Which over the long term, leads to frustration and dissatisfaction.
We are often surprised that good, 24×7 support is not included in technology strategy for senior care organizations. Staff need answers fast to ensure they can make the most of the technology their organization has deployed.
After all, care is a 24×7 business. Caring for employees and ensuring their success should be part of that.