Why We Need Better Communication Platforms in Senior Living

Digital communication platforms are no longer optional for senior living providers. 

The COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated that when a crisis emerges, these systems become vital: they provide timely and accurate updates to everyone connected to a senior living community. Residents and family members rely on community updates for safety and peace of mind, and staff turn to internal notices for changes in care protocol.

COVID-19 is taking most of our attention right now, but things will eventually return to normal. When they do, community leaders can prepare for future crises by investing in systems that facilitate communication and improve quality of life for everyone involved in a community. Here’s how communication platforms do just that.

Communication Platforms Provide Residents Assurance and Information

During a crisis like the one we’re currently experiencing, residents are often left in the dark about what’s happening, which can cause panic. To put residents at ease, community leaders can leverage communication platforms to distribute updates.

A variety of digital tools can circulate accessible updates directly to residents:

  • In-room TV channels can inform residents who are isolated to their rooms. 
  • Mobile Apps can provide live updates for residents to check on their personal devices.
  • Voice assistants can help residents with low vision or motor skills who might not be able to use smartphones or tablets. 

Each of these can be tailored to suit the unique demands of a crisis. For example, Caremerge recently introduced an Alexa integration that lets residents ask their smart speakers, “Alexa, what are the Coronavirus updates in my community?” Alexa responds with the community’s latest announcements.

Communication Platforms Enable Better Care Administration

When an emergency disrupts regular care, staff rely on community communications to know how to proceed. As CNA shortages cause many communities to be understaffed and over-extended, caregivers urgently need digital tools that can make their jobs easier.

Community leaders can quickly notify staff when care practices change through app updates. For example, Caremerge’s app can announce that staff must wear protective gear effective immediately during a viral outbreak like COVID-19. 

Digital health platforms allow staff to efficiently manage changes in resident care and prevent miscommunications:

  • Electronic health records (EHRs) help staff keep track of incident reporting, care planning, and resident assignments. 
  • Electronic medication administration records (eMARs) integrate with EHRs to simplify resident medication to-dos.

If residents are hospitalized, EHRs can facilitate the transition to and from the ER and help staff monitor recovering residents. Plus, eMARs can update medication changes or follow-up care plans after a hospitalization so that staff know what they need to do to bring residents back to health.

Communication Platforms Deliver Peace of Mind to Loved Ones

Communication platforms enable family members to receive clear, consistent, and secure communications from their loved one’s senior living community. Family members may want daily or weekly updates.

In a crisis situation, having these tools and routines in place reduces stress for everyone. When there’s an established system for family communication, everyone knows where to go to get the updates and assurance they need.

In the event that visitors are not allowed, physical distance shouldn’t pose a barrier to communication. Caremerge’s family engagement platform lets staff tell residents’ loved ones about the community situation and how their family member is doing.

Crucially, Caremerge also ensures messaging with family members is HIPAA-compliant when discussing residents’ sensitive medical information.

During a Crisis, Communication Builds Community

Unfortunately, we can’t prevent hurricanes or the outbreak of a new disease. Senior living providers can, however, take steps now to ensure that when faced with future emergencies, their communities are poised to keep residents, staff, and loved ones safe and in touch.

These days, that’s not a job for phone calls, individual emails, or physical bulletin boards. Leaders need scalable technology solutions that can efficiently deliver important messages to those who need them.

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