Senior care and comfort extends into maintenance
We are in the midst of a senior living housing boom, and maintenance has a big role in the success and growth of these communities. One of the most critical aspects as these residences flourish is the care and safety of their residents. Accidents like falls, equipment failures and lack of proactive maintenance can place a heavy burden on a facility, and in particular, a facility manager's plate.
For administrators, staying on top of the maintenance needs of an assisted living facility, retirement community and other senior housing residences means avoiding unnecessary expenditures while improving the quality of life – and safety – of its seniors.
Let's take a closer look at a few key approaches to achieving the highest resident satisfaction by improving a building's operational efficiency with a maintenance-focused approach.
Preventative maintenance - Beyond cost
While preventative maintenance can ease the burden of unanticipated costs to replace major facilities equipment such as HVAC units or large infrastructure investments, there are benefits beyond cost. Ignoring preventative maintenance can actually lead to direct injuries and place residents in harm's way.
As an example, seniors are at a greater risk of respiratory complications, which can result in pneumonia and even death. Failure to routinely change air filters in an HVAC unit often results in poorer air quality for the entire facility and can lead to higher incidents of respiratory related illness. By putting simple maintenance tasks like reminders to change filters on a schedule with automated reminders, facility managers can mitigate major health related issues.
Similarly, in the summer months when extreme heat can wreak havoc on a chiller, it's crucial to maintain a regular schedule of preventive maintenance to keep residents safe. Research indicates that nearly half of all heat-related deaths were attributed to people over 65. Take care to inspect newer HVAC systems twice a year including ductwork, air compressors and ensure all thermostats are in good working order. Older systems require a more aggressive maintenance schedule. Refrigerators and freezers should also receive the same regular inspections as the HVAC system to avoid food borne illnesses, which can be particularly detrimental for a senior.
In any given month, facility managers and administrators are tasked with managing external contractors to replace equipment, support electrical upgrades and fix exterior grounds and landscaping. Depending on the size and complexity of the senior living community, the administrator must ensure that the contractor is successfully completing the job on budget and on schedule but also safely and to the satisfaction of its residents.
For instance, if a contractor doing wiring in a building pokes holes in the smoke barriers and does not properly seal the hole, the facility and its residents are at a much greater risk for smoke inhalation if a fire breaks out. By placing all of the assigned contractors and their jobs in an automated facility maintenance reporting system to track progress and inspect the job upon completion means avoiding cost overruns and major safety concerns not too mention possible citations from fire inspectors.
Communication between a facility administrator or maintenance manager and senior executives can often be a challenge. In addition, communication of facility related issues between the front lines of the community, e.g., nurses, healthcare providers, and maintenance are paramount to the safety and well being of residents.
As a facility manager juggling multiple repair calls at once, being able to communicate in real time with staff, as well as update reporting systems with new information as it comes in can make a huge difference in time and money saved and, by extension, resident care and satisfaction. As an example, if a nurse has repeatedly reported a resident's bed malfunction to the front desk without the issue being resolved in a timely fashion, the nurse will likely not report future issues.
Accurate and reliable centrally located reporting systems enable facility managers to keep track of what is being fixed, where and by whom. Not only can automation help address repair concerns, but it also reduces duplication of efforts and improves efficiency to ultimately increase the safety and satisfaction for the most important people – our residents.
Josh Malbogat is the director of senior living at Dude Solutions.