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An Urgent Call to all Senior Living Leaders

By James Hoevertsz

To all senior living industry leaders,

For many years I’ve been very fortunate to meet many amazing people in the senior living industry. Attending many of the industry conferences that kept us together for all these years such as the LeadingAge, HEALTHTAC, Argentum and many other great conferences, you’ve all taught me a lot and shared many best practices for which to this day I’m very grateful. Today, all of us together represent the majority of the teams taking care of the seniors in America.

We all took the silent pledge to keep all of our residents safe no matter what the situation may be. We faced earthquakes, fires, tornadoes and other natural disasters and never backed down. Right now we are going through a very tough time as an industry and continue being tested every day in how we can protect and keep our residents, teams, and ourselves safe.

It’s time to unite and fight this together as one. With many small senior living providers struggling with fewer resources than others, I am calling on all of us to establish communication and reach out to each other. No matter where you are located or who you work for, we are all in this together. It is time to share best practices recently learned and support each other on how to keep moving forward.

We must stay ahead and prepare for every scenario we may face in the future. Protecting the most vulnerable is our job, and we should have a resource in each other to do so. I’ve been fortunate to have collaborated with many of the top senior living providers in the country on many fun projects. This is the time for all us to come together and help each other in any way we can.

Collaboration:  We must promote collaboration among all industry leaders to lead others that may not be as experienced or have the resources some of us may have. Having each other available for a quick call or question may mean the world to others; so consider sending messages to other industry leaders and asking them if they are OK or if they need anything. It’s up to us to make the difference and reach out. That small nursing home down the street or the community located far into town may need help. Even if it’s your competitor, we are all in this together.

Innovation:  Many protocols and processes are in need of updating or developed. Start with the outcomes you are trying to get and develop simple processes. As labor decreases, we should create innovative ways to achieve those outcomes with simplified processes. Always think, what if?

Efficiencies:  Review the delivery of products and services to see how you can increase operational efficiencies. With the possibilities of less staff, you may have to simplify and do more with less. It is crucial that you re-design the processes and do not try to deliver the same workload with less staff. This would cause fatigue and potentially can cause more shortages. Keep it simple!

Safety:  Take care of those in the front line who are taking care of the residents. Try to find ways to keep team members safe and minimize exposures to public places. Many of them have to go late to look for supplies and are exposed to risky situations due to time restrains. Create a supply bag for them to ease their anxiety to supply for their families. Make some essential items available to allow for them to focus on the residents.

Team Morale:  Many employees and leaders are at risk every day but keep focused on keeping the residents safe. These stressful times leave no time to boost morale. Don’t let this prevent you from taking a few seconds to say thank you. If you could do more, do it. We are all under a lot of stress and many need assurance of appreciation regardless of their position and titles. Best morale boosters are: personally thanking the staff constantly, show you care about their safety and ensure they remain safe.

As we continue to work every day and put ourselves at risk, we know the responsibility of taking care of the seniors we serve, our staff, ourselves and our communities.

This is an amazing opportunity for all of us to:

“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” —John Wesley

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: James Hoevertsz is Director of Culinary Excellence at WesleyLife, which offers health and well-being services in 15 Iowa counties through its 11 communities, award-winning Adult Day programs, and an array of home and community-based services. In 2019, WesleyLife expanded to eastern Iowa and western Illinois in partnership with Genesis Health System via a new organization, WellSpire. Hoevertsz will be speaking on the COVID-19: Up to the Minute discussion panel at the HEALTHTAC Virtual conference Monday, March 30.