A senior care residence resident is a place where people of advanced age expect to live comfortably. They expect to be taken care of by a trained staff. They also need to be listened to carefully and as per their needs. To be able to communicate with your senior care residents is as important as providing them day-to-day services.
You may aim to satisfy the following needs of your senior care residents:
- Personal needs: Day-to-day care of the senior residents.
- Medical needs: Routine checkups as well as giving the right medicines at the right time.
- Social needs: An environment where the residents can interact with each other and bond.
- Recreational needs: Facilities that allow the residents to entertain themselves by themselves as well as among other residents.
- Health needs: Right nutrition and enough exercise.
- Safety needs: Safely being able to live and move about.
According to a 2018 report by CRICO Strategies, upon an analysis of almost 124,000 medical professional liability cases 37% of the serious cases involved a failure to communicate.
The problem with many senior residents is that they may face communication obstacles due to different physical and cognitive impairments. They may also have vision and hearing deficiencies. With senior residents coming from diverse backgrounds, there may also be cultural and generational beliefs that can give rise to instances of miscommunication.
That is why you need a communication strategy. A well-documented communication strategy will help you prevent instances of miscommunication. You will have a list of dos and don’ts. You will know what technologies to use to make sure that the residents receive your messages as lucidly as possible. You will know what language to use and what cultural norms to follow.
Why do you need to communicate to the senior care residents regularly?
Clear communication is at the core of a successful and efficiently run senior care facility. Communication is not just necessary among the administrators and the staff members, since the residents are the biggest stakeholders, they should receive crucial information in a manner that they can receive it as well as understand it.
Various communications may include:
- Health-related communication such as why it is necessary to take medicine on time and why physical exercise is important.
- Information regarding the various recreational activities facilitated at the premises.
- Entertainment program broadcasting.
- Critical alerts about rules and regulations.
- Daily menus whether they are for all the residents or specific recommendations based on individual health of residents.
- Emergency alerts.
- Sudden changes in shifts of the caretakers.
- Compliance rules.
- Important news alerts.
- Welcoming new residents and bidding adieu to the outgoing residents.
What do you need to keep in mind when communicating with senior residents?
Listed below are 10 important strategies that can help you effectively communicate to the residents of your senior care facility.
1. Maintain a profile of every resident
You can use a software like Genexod senior living software solution to maintain complete records of your individual residents. Whenever there are communication gaps, one of the biggest culprits is a lack of knowledge about the person you are trying to communicate with. Hence, it is extremely important that you have with you every possible information about all the residents. This information must be at your fingertips using multiple devices.
2. Use artificial intelligence-powered communication tools
A great thing about an AI-powered communication tool like LUCI (provided by Genexod) is that it evolves according to the feedback that it gets through multiple instances of communication with your residents as well as all the people seeking information from your website or from your mobile app. It is a chatbot that can be integrated with Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Facebook Messenger and all other mainstream communication platforms. It quickly adapts to the individual communication needs of your senior residents.
3. Use digital signage solutions
These are TV screens that you can install at crucial locations to instantly beam important messages. They give a complete audiovisual experience to your senior residents and great attention-grabbers. They can be easily installed at prominent locations as well as the individual rooms of your senior care residents. They can be connected to your main system and using a single dashboard, you can control the entire messaging.
4. Develop an unambiguous vocabulary
Since the listening or visual facilities of your residents may be compromised, there is no scope for ambiguity. Define your communication language as clearly as possible. This language must also be communicated to all the staff members and caretakers so that they know exactly what to say, to whom, at what juncture.
5. Have an emergency response strategy in place
Communication during emergencies can be lifesaving. Define gestures, signals, signs and verbal cues that can be immediately understood during the times of emergency weather it is a fire, some social unrest or a natural calamity. You can routinely organize drills so that everyone gets into the habit of responding to such communication messages.
6. Eliminate background noises as much as possible
As it is it may be difficult for the elderly to pay attention to the audible cues around them. If these audible cues are mixed with lots of background noises it may become very difficult for you to communicate with your senior residents. Whenever possible, reduce or eliminate background noises.
7. Remove unnecessary distractions
Just as background noises can prevent your residents from hearing important messages, the same goes with unnecessary visual distractions. When communicating messages via digital signage devices, make sure that only the most important information (just text, for example) is visible on the screen.
8. Don’t interrupt or rush
Many residents may speak slowly and may have some difficulty in speaking and hearing. This may make them reluctant to communicate. You will need to train your staff members to be patient with such residents.
9. Avoid ageist language and other stereotypes
Some residents may be sensitive to certain words and indications. Even if sometimes you do not intend to hurt their feelings, you may end up making them reluctant to communicate to you through your ageist and stereotypical vocabulary.
10. Have orientation programs for caretakers and administrators
Mostly it will be the caretakers who will be constantly interacting with the senior care residents, hence, it is very important for the caretakers to be able to communicate clearly with the people they are taking care of.
It is always advisable to use cutting-edge technology to communicate with your senior residents for multiple reasons. Through technology companies like Genexod, such technologies are already going mainstream. They come equipped with AI so that most of your communication solutions can be evolutionary. Although one-size-fits-all communication strategies may be difficult to come up with, you can gather data over a long period of time and implement a strategy that is helpful to most of your residents.