Challenges of Assisted Living
Challenges of Assisted Living
Assisted living is experiencing fast growth with both individuals and corporates investing significant amounts of money in the relatively new market. With very little regulation and oversight to speak of, many operators have free reign over their procedure and policies. To make more money, more assisted living facilities are increasingly targeting older residents with dementia and Alzheimer’s. With the increasing social and work pressures, many people are opting to commit their loved ones to these facilities. This is because they offer relatively better facilities, activities, and independence than nursing homes. These facilities have little regulation since their model offers very little to none medical assistance. The industry’s markets are projected to experience a big boom in coming years. Projections place their consumer market to be in excess one million and revenues in excess of two billion dollars. The complexities of care requirements are also forecasted to increase as the current residents become frailer in coming years. It has been identified that most of these facilities lack adequate capacity and knowledge to handle the new markets that they are targeting. While assisted living facilities were formerly able to operate adequately with a low number of staff, many are currently significantly overwhelmed. This has resulted in an increase in injuries and even deaths of residents due to poor care and monitoring.
Like most markets, investors are looking to maximize the ROI on their investments. There is evidence that facilities place their staff in increasingly challenging situations without adequate training and development. There is also a rising concern of systemic regulations violations and cover-ups of problems resulting from negligence and complacency. The management of these facilities disregards the opinions of its staff to move critical residents to specialized facilities. They have a silent policy of keeping residents in at all costs provided they are alive and not disclose their inabilities to residents’ families. It is a sad state of affairs when making extra money takes precedent over human lives and well-being. Enhancing the facilities’ service delivery need not cost a lot of money. They can effectively leverage technology to keep track of residents and ensure their security. Installing security cameras throughout the facility and using RFID devices can significantly enhance resident and employee tracking, and security. Imagine a case where an employee is overwhelmed while moving a patient and they both fall. Identifying the accident quickly could be difference between life and death. Facilities could also benefit from outsourcing a majority of their non-essential services like catering and housekeeping to professional firms. This would leave their skeleton staff with enough time to tend to all residents needs adequately.
That assisted living facilities provide a very necessary service to the community is not in question. Knowing that your loved ones are taken care of and safe when you are at work provides comfort and peace of mind. However, there needs to be increased oversight and regulation in the industry. The government should come up with a task force or better yet increase the mandate of nursing homes regulatory bodies to cover assisted living facilities. This would encourage nursing homes to improve their facilities to compete favorably against assisted living facilities. It would also enhance accountability and transparency in the operations of the latter effectively ensuring high resident safety, care, and value for money.
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