The Baby Boomer generation (born between 1946 and 1964) will become the largest senior population in history. They will live longer and be healthier than any seniors in the past. They are accustomed to a specific lifestyle, unwilling to forfeit it and able to purchase what they need to remain as independent as possible. So what makes a retirement home successful in this highly competitive market?
- Integrate Electronic Health Records (EHR) – Maintaining paper records from billing to medication dispensing to clinical documentation is an archaic and time consuming practice. The ‘new’ senior population is assertive. They expect consistency in care and services. EHR are paramount in achieving this outcome.
- Organizational Culture – Retirement homes sell a lifestyle, an atmosphere that should be felt when anyone walks into the building at any time of the day. The culture of the organization starts with owners and managers. It is reflected in the morale and demeanor of its staff which communicates on how staff care for and interact with their residents. What the brochure about the facility portrays must be immediately felt during a tour by a perspective client.
- Services and Care – In the past, retirement homes predominantly serviced those who were independent. That is no longer the case. Many competitive facilities now provide a full range of care options, including ‘Memory Units’ for those suffering from mild to moderate dementia. Those homes maintain a philosophy of ‘aging in place’. These additional services generally come with a cost to the client, however the ability to purchase these services is becoming more tenable with the new aging population. When this level of care is provided, the need for EHR is no different than what is required by a long term care facility (nursing home).
- Sufficient Investment – The overall appearance of the setting, the age and wear of its décor and the amenities the home provides creates the competitive edge. More importantly, the technology age means that the ‘new’ resident is more technology savvy – Netflix, tablets, cell phones, access to WiFi and more become the basics. Residents wanting access to their own clinical records is a given and legislatively supported. The freedom for residents to self-medicate has become the norm. This makes EHR and a sophisticated eMAR essential.
The emphasis on technology in almost all aspects of the operations of the retirement home of today is not exaggerated. In reality, technology is changing the face of retirement home living. Be prepared for wireless call bell systems, resident locator pendants for those who are confused, touch screen communicators, electronic entertainment programs, falls indicators and much more. The early adopters, those who stay ahead of the pack, are already there. The majority of homes are in the process of moving ahead. The stragglers will feel the impact on their bottom line. The future has arrived!