Why the Smallest Details Can Have the Biggest Senior Living Impact

the little things

Most senior living communities know some personal details about their residents — their ages, chronic conditions, and medication regimen. But many don’t take enough time to learn about who residents are as people — where they’re from, their favorite foods, and their lifelong hobbies and passions.

Those communities that aren’t getting to know the intimate details are missing out in a big way.

In fact, it’s critical for senior living staff to understand every resident’s unique quirks and preferences. Just ask Terri Cunliffe, President and CEO of Skokie, Illinois-based senior living provider Covenant Retirement Communities.

Even though she’s decades away from moving into senior living or skilled nursing herself, Cunliffe knows that she will have certain preferences as a resident that her community of choice will have to learn and respect. Otherwise, her resident experience will fall woefully short.

“I get up at 4:30 in the morning; I start with a cup of coffee within five minutes,” Cunliffe said in a recent interview with Senior Housing News. “When I move into a nursing home, I hope they don’t keep me in bed until 7:00 and wait until 8:00 for a cup of coffee, because if I’m in a bad mood, that’ll be why.”

Cunliffe wants to make sure that current Covenant residents don’t have to give up their lifestyles just because they live in senior living. That’s why Covenant leadership created a tool that learns about future residents’ individual preferences, so when they move in they can be paired up with residents and staff who share similar lifestyles, preferences, and goals, she explains.

The tool has changed a bit since it was first put into place.

“It’s expanded since then; we did ask a lot of questions about how they live their life, what time they get up, what they do,” Cunliffe says.

Added safety

It’s not just residents’ happiness that has the potential to be impacted when senior living communities take a detailed approach to getting to know each and every person living under the community’s roof — it’s also residents’ safety.

If for instance, a senior living resident who notes she prefers to wake up at 7 a.m. suddenly begins sleeping in past 9 a.m. every day, it could be an indication that her health may need to be checked out. Along the same lines, if a resident starts losing his appetite for his favorite dinner, staff can take notice and determine if there’s something else going on.

Proactive communities are asking residents about their preferences — dozens of them. They’re finding out what they like to do, what they like to eat, when their kids visit, who calls them every day, and what they like to watch on T.V. There’s no detail too small when it comes to making every resident feel he or she is at home, and safe there.

Keeping Track with Technology

An electronic system that keeps track of residents’ habits and preferences requires that communities have WiFi — which is also a bonus not only for residents, but for staff.

After all, having WiFi is only going to become more necessary for senior living communities as time goes on, as young, millennial staff members are used to accessing the Internet whenever they choose and current residents are surfing the web on their iPads.

“Residents are evolving. They will be tech-savvy and demand tech in their rooms,” Marc Gaber, chief information officer for Des Moines, Iowa-based senior living operator and developer LCS, said during a panel at the What’s Next Boomer Business Summit in Chicago in March. “They will want programming that utilizes technology and we need to think about what that apartment looks like. It’s no longer just nice to have technology, it’s a must-have.”

Implementing technology that can improve residents’ health and happiness is a no-brainer — and PointClickCare has everything communities need to make remembering the “little things” about residents a reality.

Read More: Learn how to set your community apart by capturing the right information.

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