Though it can take a lot of training and resources to turn a senior living community into a well-oiled machine, there are some simple ways providers can boost operational efficiency, according to a new white paper by Dude Solutions, a provider of cloud-based operations management solutions headquartered in Cary, North Carolina.
Specifically, the white paper outlined five areas senior living providers should keep in mind when looking to improve their operations: assets; staff and productivity; budgeting and work hours; energy consumption; and full-time staff versus contractors.
One place to start is by identifying and tracking KPIs (key performance indicators) in order to see “how other communities operate smarter and picking the easiest areas for you to improve with the greatest impact on time and dollars,” the white paper detailed.
Take stock of assets
All senior living communities should track and monitor the physical assets they have, according to the white paper. This might include taking stock of warranty or lifecycle information, with the end goal of using that information to make better decisions about when to repair or replace things.
“These important data points can empower you to quickly make decisions around asset lifecycle and repair versus replace decisions,” Dude Solutions noted. “They can also save you time and money with automatic reminders for preventive maintenance needs and asset warranties before they expire.”
Make the most of metrics
Though there are many community-level metrics senior living providers can track such as occupancy rate and length of stay, those aren’t the only ones relevant to operational efficiency. Other benchmarks providers can track include labor time per resident or average time spent closing out work orders.
The idea is to standardize routine tasks in order to set clear expectations with work time, the white paper noted. Providers can use that information to anonymously “keep score,” or even to encourage healthy competition and improvement among workers.
Budget using benchmarks
Providers who track work hours can also use that information to help determine the best way to spend money, according to the white paper.
For instance, if a senior living community learns its work order response time is less than optimal, it might consider spending the money needed to hire another staffer to help out. On the flip side, providers can see where they’re doing well, and therefore find they don’t need to allocate extra resources.
“With data about your team’s time spent on work orders, PM tasks and more, you can know what you need based on your work and team performance data and let the work inform your future planning,” the white paper noted.
Emphasize energy efficiency
Though it may seem like common sense to some, senior living providers can track and tweak their energy usage to shave dollars off their utility bills.
Some areas providers could scrutinize for savings include monthly bills and meter readings; billing errors or cost overruns; total energy usage; and unused energy efficiency programs.
“Additional ways that senior living communities are saving energy include smart building systems and using technology to automate them,” Dude Solutions explained in the white paper. “There may also be the opportunity to retrofit assets to be more efficient. Many facilities update to LED lighting to save, as well as replace large assets like old boilers that waste energy.”
Find balance between staffers and contractors
It might not always be easy for senior living communities to determine whether to use staffers or contractors for a specific job, but that doesn’t mean they should eyeball it, according to Dude Solutions.
“When you’re just making an educated guess, it can end up costing you in time and/or money,” Dude Solutions wrote. “When you have the data to see what is most efficient, then it’s a win-win for your organization and your staff.”
Using benchmarks, providers can determine the most cost-effective approach to assigning duties without burning out full-time staff or leaving them with little to do.
Written by Tim Regan