Sep 11, 2023 | Industry

Senior Living Residents Don’t Say Thank You for Uptime. But It’s Possible Your Staff Will. 

The senior living population is growing and is expected to double over the next 10 years.

Seniors have expectations. They want to live in communities with access to modern amenities and technology. This includes the availability of smart lighting and temperature control systems, as well as connected technologies that support their health and wellness needs.

At the same time, senior living managers have a challenging set of responsibilities, much of which is invisible and unappreciated by residents. There’s an absolute need to provide time-critical, clean, safe, and compliant facilities. There are no shortcuts here.

As operating budgets become more constrained, a significant portion of the senior living infrastructure is becoming older and less reliable. This poses the risk of encountering frequent system failures and downtime. Not only does this strain the energy bill, but it also increases costs for reactive maintenance.

And in the spirit of piling on, there’s significant merger and acquisition activity in the senior living space. This ongoing trend has implications for the integration of building control technology in these communities. Additionally, the senior living sector is facing widespread staffing shortages, including a shortage of building engineering staff. These challenges make the integration of building control technology even more challenging.

With recent unexpected weather events, one New Jersey-based senior living general manager worked a 20-hour day at the facility, troubleshooting power outages and building system issues while keeping residents safe and calm. She left for the day expressing how exhausted she was and the need to start over the next day.

At Albireo Energy, we recommend that senior living facilities establish building system resiliency plans that leverage technology, automated communication and simple building analytics. Pulling a few key levers will satisfy senior living staff at all levels and maybe even solicit a thank you from residents when something does go down. Here’s what to consider:

  1. Access remote services. When there’s an emergency systems issue, it can take a service technician an hour or more to get to a senior living facility. That’s an hour when residents may not have cooling or heating, water or other essentials.

    Establishing a service arrangement where skilled technicians can remotely access building control systems and troubleshoot issues is a real-time alternative. One senior living organization manages uptime and efficiency across 21 locations with 24×7 remote service. That’s not to say that the senior living organization never sees a technician – it means that a technician is the second line of defense.

  2. Establish critical alarm notification and resolution process. There is nothing worse than coming to work at a senior living facility and finding that cold storage stopped working overnight or that the HVAC system isn’t working because it’s out of refrigerant.

    Ask your service provider for a way to prioritize the critical alarms and establish a notification tree for reporting failures. It’s key to have multiple forms of notification (text, phone calls and emails) with acknowledgment of receipt. You can even put your service provider as the last point of acknowledgment so that they can remotely connect to diagnose and address the issue no matter what time of day or night.

  3. Do a quarterly review of your building performance. Building control systems in senior living facilities offer tons of data and analytics about usage patterns, user preferences, fault detection, peak energy periods and more. Being staff light, it’s nearly impossible to interpret the data, draw insights and take action on them.

Ask your service provider for a quarterly meeting to review a performance dashboard of your senior living building inefficiencies. This is not designed to put your maintenance staff on the defensive – rather, it’s a way for them to stay ahead of equipment malfunctions, eliminate uneven heating and cooling patterns, and control energy that would otherwise be lost.  

Your residents may never say thank you for ensuring uptime, performance and efficiency. However, with these productivity measures in place, your staff will thank you and be free to focus on the tech-enabled amenities for residents.

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