How to Leverage Technology to Stabilize Staffing Shortages

by Jeff Shaw

By Meagan Rohan, Vice President of Sales, Caremerge

The senior living industry is dealing with a severe staffing problem. According to a survey by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) released in September 2021, only four percent of assisted living communities are fully staffed.

These shortages aren’t just impacting the day-to-day operations of these communities, but the viability of their businesses. The AHCA survey also found that over 60 percent of nursing homes and assisted living communities are concerned staffing shortages will force them to close.

I’ve spent my career dedicated to the care and well-being of older adults. Between my time in communities as a resident services director to now working for a senior living technology partner as the vice president of sales, I know the importance of creating a sustainable, healthy work environment for your staff.

In order to stabilize communities, leaders need to implement technology to support their current staff and attract prospective employees. Here’s how you can use technology to increase staff retention and satisfaction in senior living.

Digitize Health Records

Completing daily wellness checks is one of many tasks your care staff performs, but it can take up a lot of time because it requires that staff walk down the hall to an office, log on to a desktop computer and transcribe written notes.

With the support of a digital health platform and tablet technology, care staff can update residents’ health records while visiting with the resident in real-time.

In addition to being an easily accessible mobile resource for your staff, online health records ensure the quality of care by giving your staff one place where they can update care plans, track symptoms, update assessment schedules and log incident reports.

Where a paper incident report may not be promptly uploaded to the system, mobile digital documentation allows staff to document even the smallest of incidents or health changes in a way that’s accessible to all staff, even when they’re away from their desks.

Additionally, using a mobile-friendly digital platform, caregivers and healthcare providers can access a resident’s entire profile. This makes it easier to flag changes in behavior or health conditions and promptly alert other staff to these differences.

Integrate Tech Communication Solutions

Good communication among staff is vital to running a successful community, and strong interpersonal relations are the foundation of a healthy work environment.

One way to promote clear communication is to rely on a mobile-friendly tech platform. This ensures the entirety of your care staff — from activity directors to dieticians to CNAs — are on the same page about resident care, scheduling, and community procedures.

As someone with experience working in senior living communities, I know how challenging tracking and planning resident care plans can be. Gone are the days of sitting around a table hand-writing resident diets and activity schedules. With integrated tech platforms, care staff can:

  • Create and approve ADLs on the go.
  • Ask each other questions.
  • Brainstorm new activities.
  • Approve care plans in between resident check-ins or meetings.

Relying on a digital platform allows for better collaboration, detailed tracking and streamlined communication between staff.

Improve Your Marketability to Prospective Staff

Due to pandemic-related resignations, the gig economy is growing. The gig economy’s trademark? Flexibility.

To win over prospective employees, especially those who are working other part-time jobs, you should provide scheduling options, modern technology and opportunities for long-term growth. This will improve your marketability to future staff and also encourage your current staff to stay.

While you may have to work around your employees’ preferences, allowing them to choose how and when they work provides them with the flexibility they’re looking for.

For example, offer your staff the option to work four 10-hour shifts or three 12-hour shifts based on their preference. As a community leader, you should also consider hiring employees who have limited work availability, like only night or weekend shifts.

Another way to improve your marketability is by integrating tech platforms to streamline your care staff’s job responsibilities. Imagine tasks like updating activity calendars, communicating with resident families and scheduling health assessments all completed from one easy-to-use platform.

In our digitized world, future employees expect tech integration. Don’t lose out on talent because your community still works off paper and desktop systems. Instead, exceed their expectations with a singular platform for all their needs. Even better, find a tech partner whose system is easy to onboard, simple to use, and streamlines your employees’ job responsibilities.

Finally, another way to attract and retain talented care staff is offering robust benefits. Especially in the gig economy where employees may be working multiple jobs, stand out from other employers by providing them incentives to stay, such as:

  • Better healthcare benefits.
  • Signing bonuses.
  • Career certifications.
  • Shortened performance review periods to add bonus opportunities.
  • Emotional and wellness support.

By implementing additional ways to support your staff, your community will have an easier time recruiting and retaining talent.

Adopt New Technology for New Talent

The bad news is many senior living communities will continue to deal with staffing shortages. The good news is there is increasing investment in the senior living technology field.

Just last month, Amazon launched Alexa Together, a smart aging platform to assist older adults in living independently. The development of senior living tech will lead to greater accessibility and usability for communities and residents alike.

While integrating technology across your community sounds like a good idea, implementing a new process takes time and onboarding can seem daunting. Although there’s no way to get around the fact that onboarding takes time, it doesn’t have to be a painful process.

Senior living tech solutions offer your care staff opportunities to complete work more efficiently and communicate with coworkers more easily, all while providing a high level of care to your residents.

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