Modern Aging: Reasons to Invest in Elder Tech for Long-Term Care
The U.S. population is aging, and aging fast; by 2030, everyone in the baby boomer generation will be aged 65 years or older. Projections indicate that the number of elderly will increase faster than the number of working adults or children. It is therefore not surprising that one of the very first actions of President Biden was to earmark $400 billion toward supporting the eldercare industry.
For operators in the eldercare industry, investing in elder tech today for long-term care facilities can improve the quality of care to residents and also provide actionable data for improving the operational and financial performance of your facilities.
Gain Greater Visibility Into Residents’ Well-being
Implementing elder tech in long-term care facilities provides visibility into the well-being of residents. Eldercare tech helps to track the quality of care and find opportunities to optimize and improve the quality of care.
Eliminate Information Silos
Elder tech provides centralized visibility into residents’ healthcare data through the easy generation of data across care programs. This ensures that all caregivers have the latest updates about residents’ well-being. For instance, information about residents’ medications, diets, exercises, scheduled hospital visits, etc., can be found in a single repository instead of having to dig through reports and calendars across multiple departments. The information about all residents in the facility is stored digitally and is easily accessible from handheld devices or patient-management terminals.
The centralization of residents’ data eliminates the information silos that occur when information is stored in paper files across multiple departments. In addition, the management team can easily review the data to gain greater oversight of the quality of care being delivered.
All caregivers, from healthcare assistants, staff nurses, physical therapists, and coordinators up to the director of care, have controlled access to varying amounts of information about residents.
Streamline Communication With Relevant Stakeholders
Modern eldercare tech can also help streamline communication with the rest of the care team, residents’ physicians, and the broader care network. It also prevents miscommunication when information is verbally passed between caregivers or information loss when caregivers have to rely on memory during a busy shift. For instance, caregivers working the morning shift can easily see which residents need to take medications, rest, exercise, or visit a doctor without having to rely on oral updates or dig through reports from the caregivers that worked during the overnight shift.
Providing the best possible care to aging adults requires collaborative participation from all stakeholders. Elder tech also enables family-facing reporting to provide regular updates on residents’ diet, exercises, and other activities.
Enable Residents to Live Sociable, Independent Lives
Investing in elder tech helps create tailored care to meet the unique needs of residents and proactively improve their quality of life.
Enables Independence and Autonomy
Elder tech tools can enable residents in assisted living facilities to live relatively independent lives by giving them the freedom to be by themselves without necessarily having a caregiver staying around them 24/7.
For instance, having caregivers around residents might look like a great way to ensure instantaneous support, but it could potentially become stifling if the residents feel like they never have any moment to themselves. In contrast, emergency alert tools can enable residents to call for assistance when needed, either by a manual pull, voice activation, or even when the AI mechanisms sense a sudden change in their position.
Other types of assistive technologies can also improve the sense of personal independence in care facilities. WHO predicts that more than two billion people will need at least one assistive technology by 2030. These assistive technologies will help residents to better engage with the community on their own terms without feeling like they are being burdensome.
Eldercare tech can also improve residents’ quality of life, reducing social isolation by facilitating virtual visits, enabling access to media resources, and helping them to better communicate with the care team. A 2020 study presented evidence that social isolation is a major risk factor for premature mortality at a rate comparable to other physiological conditions such as obesity or high blood pressure, especially in older adults.
Allows for More Personalized and Proactive Care
Eldercare tech tools can assist long-term care facilities in proactively anticipating and meeting the needs of residents by generating data on residents’ activities. The data generated from these activities can help in trendspotting and early detection of functional declines in acts of daily living as well as cognitive declines.
These eldercare devices could also track the frequency and nature of residents’ requests to make it easier to spot if there’s a growing or acute increase in the frequency of a specific request — thereby indicating the need for some deeper examination. Some eldercare tech solutions can also record vitals, sleep, breathing, stride, balance, and other key metrics.
Tracking these data points aids in the early detection of declining functions. Researchers studying how to better diagnose mild cognitive impairment (MCI) assert that “Early detection, of MCI or preclinical AD [Alzheimer’s Disease] stages, coupled with timely initiation of disease-modifying treatments, has become the clear path to successfully facing the social and medical threat of AD.”
Empower Staff to Make the Best Choices
Elder tech tools can help empower staff members to take initiative, provide adequate care, and make the best choices when discharging their duties.
Elder Tech Tools Can Help Streamline Daily Operations
Eldercare tech tools also help with workflow automation in care facilities by turning residents’ acts of daily living into to-do lists for caregivers. Managing these activities as to-do lists creates an efficient workflow for caregivers to move from one task to the next and to ensure that no activity is inadvertently overlooked.
Another way elder tech tools can help streamline daily operations is to help caregivers differentiate between types of calls from residents. Traditional call light systems are typically either on or off — it makes no difference whether the resident simply needs help adjusting the temperature in their room or they have a serious medical emergency.
Elder tech tools differentiate between an alert for a request or a medical emergency and help the caregivers to prioritize calls as required instead of running on high vigilance in response to all alerts throughout their shift.
Elder Tech Can Help Distribute Workloads to Avoid Burnout and Reduce Turnover
Elder tech can help optimize the workload balance in relation to staffing levels to reduce response times. The system can route calls to different caregivers based on whether they are currently free or attending to another resident or their relative proximity to the resident. Elder tech can also help with the escalation or de-escalation of calls so that caregivers are assigned tasks that best align with their responsibilities.
Managing workloads and avoiding burnout for caregiver staff is especially important because of the high turnover rates for staff in long-term-care centers. In 2021, the turnover rates for CNAs and RNs in continuing care retirement communities (CCRC) were as high as 45.87% and 40.45%, respectively.
Make Data-Driven Business Decisions
Implementing elder tech in the decision-making process provides the management team with data to improve the chances of meeting operational and business goals.
Integrating Elder Tech Into Your Operations Helps You to Generate Data
Eldercare tech tools help generate operational data such as the type of requests, frequency of requests, duration, resolution, and other factors that are difficult to track through manual paper files or spreadsheets.
The data generated helps in pattern recognition and trendspotting to better understand operational cycles. The data help you track staff performance to identify the outperformers and underperformers so you can retain, reward, or retrain as necessary.
The generated data is also valuable for spotting inefficiencies in the operations, such as having too many staff at times when there are fewer requests. Addressing the inefficiencies could help reduce the wastage of resources.
The Data Could Improve the Unit Economics of Your Facilities
The operational data generated could also help you improve the financial performance of your facilities. For instance, you can leverage the data to explain the need for increased billing to the family members of residents that require extra attention, more frequent assistance, or dedicated support beyond your regular offerings.
The data could also help you justify operational expenses and costs, such as investments in assistive technologies, expanding the facility, or hiring additional staff with specialized skills or experience.
Future-Proof Your LTC Facilities With Elder Tech Today
Elder tech solutions will become increasingly important in the eldercare industry because they help to improve the quality of care. These solutions are also driving modern aging requirements by ensuring that older adults age with dignity. Integrating elder tech tools into the operations of long-term care facilities puts your facility at the forefront of the eldercare industry, and it ensures that your business continues to stay relevant as the broader eldercare industry evolves.
Sage makes it much easier and less stressful to integrate eldercare technology into the operations of your care facilities. Sage enables this integration as a one-stop solution rather than having to integrate multiple different tech solutions piecemeal.