At the moment, senior living faces one of the highest turnover rates in any industry. And by 2025, it’s estimated the senior living industry will face a shortage of more than 1 million caregivers within the system.
To help improve retention, communities are implementing new onboarding and employee engagement programs to keep up with demand, and that includes incorporating new technologies.
Technology provides a powerful opportunity to reduce turnover at a time when a new generation of employees are entering the workforce, and by extension, senior living communities. If it’s not already here, the upcoming ‘silver tsunami’ poses a unique challenge in that senior living providers will be taking on more and more residents, but it is crucial to have a steady foundation of staff to support the increase.
Why Technology Matters In Senior Living
Historically speaking, the senior living industry has lagged when introducing new technology solutions to their organizations, but that is changing—and it has to.
Implementing technology to reduce turnover is a pressing initiative at many communities because the millennials and post-millennials entering the senior living workforce are technologically-savvy, and they will expect workplaces to have systems in place that are easy to use and provide a wealth of information.
Just ask The Chesapeake, a continuing care community (CCRC) located in Newport News, Virginia. This CCRC offers assisted living, independent living, memory care and skilled nursing, all under one roof. With nearly 500 employees, The Chesapeake’s Director of Resident Programs, Susan LaFrance, was looking for a way to keep staff engaged and make their lives easier during their shifts.
That’s why she turned to Touchtown, and the suite of technology solutions they provide to boost employee engagement. LaFrance tells Senior Housing News that since a large majority of employees have smartphones, utilizing Touchtown’s Community Apps has made team members’ lives easier.
“Providing the information in a format that the staff member wants to consume just makes a lot of sense,” Touchtown Product Manager Lindsay Evans, tells Senior Housing News. “Reach the staff members where they are.”
For example, team members can access a suite of community-specific applications on their phones or tablets to look up a resident’s information, including his or her biography. LaFrance says this information helps break the ice with residents, as employees can start small talk with new residents about their grandchildren they boasted about in their biography. The ability to find a resident’s phone number is swift and more efficient than finding a number in a book.
That’s why it simply makes sense to give employees, particularly younger ones, the digital tools to succeed. Additionally, each community can implement non-interactive technology, such as digital signage, that can announce training tips, staff achievements, and community updates.
Bridging Communication Gaps
More senior living communities are adopting Touchtown, partly due to how each community can boost employee engagement by customizing the app to provide information specific to the community and surrounding area. At The Chesapeake, LaFrance has overseen the successful implementation of 31 different services within the Touchtown app, from employee phone listings to a marketplace where workers can buy or sell goods.
After using the app for a bit, a maintenance worker told LaFrance how much more connected this tool made him feel toward the community and other staff members.
“This worker was so excited. It just connected him with all these icons. That’s 31 different avenues of information,” says LaFrance.
LaFrance is also in the midst of adding more pieces of information centered around human resources. Once HR services are added, she believes employee engagement will increase even more.
That level of connectivity is not always seen in senior living communities. Employees who don’t know where to share their thoughts, or can’t look up important information are more likely to feel dissatisfied at work. Evans believes that if organizations provide a platform to easily connect with employees, it will make a marketable improvement in employee retention.
“It’s huge for people to feel heard, and it’s huge for people to get information,” says Evans.
What industry challenges are you facing this year? Contact Touchtown at 1-866-868-2486 to brainstorm about your goals and learn how Touchtown’s solutions can help.