Want to respond faster to maintenance requests at your senior living community? There’s a lot you can do to optimize your workflow, but the real trick is in beating them to the punch in the first place. 

Examine your current maintenance process 

If your senior living community is like many others, you may have a defined process in place for reporting and responding to maintenance issues — but odds are, in practice, it’s cumbersome. 

Often, other staff members or residents just try to catch you in the hall to let you know something needs attention (especially in pre-pandemic times). You’ll spot a certain amount of work during routine checks, and when something’s really going wrong, you’ll probably at least get a phone call. 

But responding is another issue. When you already have assigned work orders at the start of a day, changing priorities during it is just an extra task to navigate. If a pipe has burst, you absolutely want to get right on that, but doing so means that you’re shifting around other tasks, and information can get lost in the emergency. 

  • What was put off until the next day? 
  • What already was done before you heard about the new thing? 
  • Who’s available to take over other important tasks — and did that person get to them? 

You might have fixed those pipes, but when you come in the next day, you’ll have a pile of other requests that people still are waiting on. 

Prioritize your work orders 

Of course you’d like to get everything done immediately, but you have to prioritize. You don’t need me to tell you that something that is causing active damage, such as a burst pipe, needs immediate attention. 

But otherwise, you may be able to change how you prioritize other tasks to make your residents feel as though you are responding more quickly. 

You might be tempted to deal with issues based on the date or time they come in, but an issue that directly affects a resident’s comfort will be perceived to be far more important than anything else. Not addressing a heating malfunction, or leaving an elevator broken, will feel much worse to residents than if you wait to do some work in a room that only is used once or twice a month. 

One way you can respond faster is actually just by developing a system to fast-track tasks based on resident comfort. 

Online reporting 

Another way to respond faster is by speeding notification about issues. A resident or staff member, rather than waiting to grab someone in the hall or making a phone call just to get your answering machine because you’re out attending to another issue, can use an online reporting system to let you know something is wrong at any time. 

Having a simple online form enables you to ask all the questions you need to fully understand what’s going on, along with requesting precise information about who sent the message and when. 

And the person doesn’t have to wait for you to be available. He or she sees an issue, it gets reported, and you get notified. 

It may take a little training to get everyone up to speed on how to use this process, but such a system can do wonders to improve your response time by cutting down on initial delay. 

Using a more sophisticated maintenance management solution 

Using computerized maintenance management software, or CMMS, also is an option. Some of these platforms actually can help you anticipate problems before they happen — and there’s no better response time than preventing the issue in the first place! 

With preventive maintenance and asset management tools, for instance, you can keep track of the status of all your equipment, run regular maintenance that will help keep it in good shape, and identify what is likely to fail before water is spilling all over the dining room. 

At the same time, by helping you better manage your work orders all from one place, these systems will help you prioritize and reduce response time for the issues that happen that do matter more. 

Tackle all angles of the response problem 

The best way that any senior living maintenance department can help residents stay happy and comfortable is to look at every opportunity to reduce failure, make the reporting quick and easy, and reprioritize to lower response time. 

Try these tips for yourself and find out how much better you can make things for your residents.