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Debunking 7 Myths about Senior Living Staffing, Technology, and Residents

Senior living is a complex industry. You need to serve residents, their families, your staff, and any other folks who may be interested in your community. That’s a lot of groups to track. And that creates a lot of opportunities for people to misconstrue what a senior living community does.

For example, family members might think that a community doesn’t have smart home technology because a loved one mentioned they don’t have an Alexa in their room. The truth might be that the community uses Google smart devices. But the family will operate with the idea their loved one doesn’t have technology they need.

Apply those misunderstandings to a whole industry and you get myths. Here, we’ll debunk seven of them and share how you can improve your community as a result.

Myths about Senior Living Residents

These myths cover the resident experience and what soon-to-be residents may be thinking about before joining your community.

Myth #1: Residents lose their autonomy when they move in

One of the biggest concerns older adults have when they look into senior living is that they will lose their independence. We have, among other things, inaccurate depictions of senior living in entertainment to blame for that. (Senior living isn’t all about shuffleboard!)

The truth is that older adults can retain their personhood and autonomy even with additional support, whether in the form of housekeeping or mobility aids.

What’s more: certain forms of technology can further empower residents to remain self-sufficient. Rather than, for instance, waiting on a staff member to turn off the lights in their dwelling, a resident could do it themselves with a simple phrase and smart, voice-controlled bulbs.

Myth #2: Residents don’t like using technology

For years, people have assumed older adults dislike – and can’t use – technology. That assumption undermines the real issue: many older adults haven’t felt comfortable using certain forms of technology because (A) it isn’t created with them in mind or (B) they didn’t receive any training.

Despite this, older adults today, by and large, use smartphones, laptops, and even social media. And they want to understand it. In 2020, senior living experienced the costs of a digital divide. If you’ve tried adopting technology in the past, with pushback from residents, the question shouldn’t be: Why don’t residents like technology? The question should be: What was unintuitive about the technology we tried to adopt?

Myths about Senior Living Technology

These myths cover the role senior living technology plays, and can play, in a senior living community.

Myth #3: AI technology will displace a community’s staff

One of the first concerns people, across industries, had as AI tech like ChatGPT became more viable was job loss. As it relates to senior living, though, this shouldn’t be a concern.

Why? Because the industry is in the midst of a decades-long staffing shortage. To be overly simplistic, technology can’t displace a workforce that isn’t there. In a lot of cases, AI technology will actually help communities retain their staff by ensuring that workloads are manageable.

For example, AI technology can automate various administrative tasks, like data analysis, that might otherwise take days for staff members to complete.

Myth #4: Communities don’t need a partner to implement technology

While it’s true that senior living technology should be intuitive and easy for you to adopt, that doesn’t mean you should implement it on your own.

Remember, when you’re purchasing technology, you’re not just buying the software or hardware. You’re also buying the customer support – the prompt follow-up emails, the friendly check-in meetings, and the onsite demos of new features. Support can make or break your technology implementation. That’s why it should weigh heavily into the vendor you choose.

Myth #5: Technology is too expensive to adopt right now

With operating costs rising, it may seem like an odd time to invest in technology. But this is actually the best time to do it.

Many communities have a “time issue” on their hands: they don’t have enough of it. This often results in paying excessive overtime or using agency staffing to cover necessary tasks.

Today’s senior living technology solutions can pay for themselves – and then some – with the time they save. Communities that use Icon, for example, see an 80 percent reduction in time spent on resident life administrative tasks.

Myths about Senior Living Staffing

These myths cover what the workforce looks like in senior living today and how communities attract and retain talent.

Myth #6: Agency staffing is a crucial piece of the long-term staffing puzzle

Eighty-seven percent of communities use agency staffing, according to a 2023 survey. But nearly half of the respondents (45.9 percent) report using it less now than they did a year ago. This reveals that, while the staffing shortage is still a crisis, communities are adapting and finding other ways to cover shifts.

Interested in seeing how you can implement a staffing model that cuts costs, saves time, and improves the quality of care? Check out: Closures, Lawsuits, and Rising Costs: The Ongoing Impacts of a Staffing Shortage and How to Prevent Them

Myth #7: High turnover is inevitable

High turnover has been a constant issue for many senior living communities. But it doesn’t need to stay that way. Many leaders may turnover as being an exclusive product of compensation, but there are additional ways to retain staff and ensure they feel valued. (Eight out of 10 employees would stay in a job where they felt supported and valued vs. a job that pays 30 percent more but leaves them feeling unsupported and undervalued.)

Remember: most senior living staff members join a community for its mission. Your staff members want to care for others. So mirror that level of attentiveness and care to them. Recognize and shout out hard work. Create structured onboarding programs that promote a sense of belonging from day one. Establish clear promotion criteria. Make decisions that show your commitment to employee wellbeing.

The best communities to live in are also the best places to work for.

Use Senior Living Technology to Keep Everyone on the Same Page

There’s a good chance you’ll continue to encounter these myths in your day to day. And you could debunk them, or try debunking them, for hours. (We did – it’s why we wrote this blog!)

But the truth of the matter is this: myths are born from miscommunication and misunderstanding.You can limit that when you centralize the information your entire community needs in one place: an all-in-one communication and engagement platform. Want to see how this technology can help you debunk myths while cutting costs and enhancing care? Book a demo!

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