Resolutions For Your Senior Living Community

All too often, resolutions are about the things we give up, the things we choose to do without. No wonder they never get off the ground. This year at Tel-Tron, we’ve decided to take a different approach, by giving you a few ideas on how to enhance and enrich your community and it’s residents and to help make your community an even better place to live and work this year. Here is some inspiration to get you started:

ImageGo Green: A healthier lifestyle begins with a healthier environment, and with all the tools and resources available, it is easier than ever to ensure that your community is eco-friendly. Here are a few simple solutions:

  1. Get an Energy Star check: How energy-efficient is your community? An EPA Energy Star check is the best way to know for sure. Not only is an Energy Star certification mean that your facility is eco-friendly, but it also ensures superior comfort for your residents and a reduction of up to one-third in your energy costs. It’s a win-win!
  2. Recycle Everywhere: While most community have implemented recycling programs in their main living areas, this year, make a commitment to facilitate recycling throughout your community by using divided bins in residents’ rooms or on shared hallways. Education is also important. Since seniors did not grow up recycling, many of them know very little about it. Discuss what can and can’t be recycled, using physical examples, so residents are clear on the guidelines and your program is more successful.
  3. Reduce fabric waste: Fabric waste is a little-known environmental problem in the United States. Assist your residents in getting rid of unwanted clothing and linens with a centrally located donation bin. Donate these items to a shelter or a local thrift shop. Many of these places donate unwanted items to fabric recycling facilities, which turn them into cleaning rags, brushes, etc.

Make Connections: Fostering a sense of community is the key to having happy, fulfilled residents, and achieving it is easier than you think. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Reach out to Residents: Most communities have feedback systems in place, but many residents are hesitant to publicly voice their suggestions, so be sure that you offer a suggestion box of another method for residents to anonymously give their feedback.
  2. Capitalize on Skills: Create a questionnaire to uncover the hidden talents and abilities of your residents, and ask those that are able to host programs around these skills. From woodworking, knitting, and scrapbooking to more active pursuits like yoga and dance, these offer a great way to make sure residents feel relevant and connected.
  3. Help Out: Most people feel a great sense of satisfaction and usefulness by helping others, so find a way to band together for a good cause, from organizing a food drive to stitching blankets for children at homeless shelters.Image

Resolve to Do Better: When residents stay healthy, the entire community thrives. Here are suggestions to help your residents stay on track:

  1. Host a Resolutions Party: Residents can pick a buddy to help them stay on track and offer feedback on ways that the community can help, perhaps by providing healthier meal options or more opportunities for exercise.
  2. Encourage residents to take up one new activity in 2014 that engages their mind, and create loosely organized clubs around these activities. Book clubs, language learning, or puzzles all offer great opportunities for mental exercise.
  3. Schedule a Wellness Check: Offer a free wellness check to residents from a trusted healthcare provider, and use the results to formulate or further develop resolutions.

For more information on how you can improve safety and security for your residents in 2014, visit www.tel-tron.com for details on our complete and customizable Emergency Call System solutions for your community.

The Value of Independence in Senior Living

A few years ago, I read an article comparing American values to the values in some developing countries. The writer emphasized that autonomy and independence are as integral to American culture as the proverbial baseball and apple pie. In some countries, particularly developing nations, interdependence is emphasized, but in the United States, our goal as parents is to raise kids who can survive, and thrive, without us. A couple of years ago, I found that, at virtually the same time, both of my daughters went through tricky transitions on the road to independence. One wanted to do everything herself, but couldn’t. The other could do most things for herself, but wouldn’t. It was a frustrating phase, but in retrospect, it taught me a lot about the role of independence in senior living.

TiedShoesSetting Realistic Expectations

The key to successfully maintaining independence in an assisted living facility is to set realistic expectations. Determining your residents’ abilities and capabilities is the first step. In assisted and independent living facilities, most residents can successfully handle the following tasks.

  • Using the restroom
  • Coming and going at will
  • Preparing simple meals and snacks
  • Selecting their own television shows, reading material, etc.
  • Brushing their teeth, showering, and other basic grooming skills

A well-meaning caregiver who steps in and intercepts when help is not required brushes aside a lifetime of independence, a process that can slowly erode the resident’s sense of self-esteem and autonomy.  There are many advantages to fostering independence in seniors, including emotional, psychological, and physical benefits, and a more independent group of residents lightens the load of caregivers, allowing them to focus on the residents’ who truly require help.

Utilizing Technology

Resident Check-In

Technology can help seniors maintain their independence or sense of independence for much longer. Technology such as resident Check-In, automated resident reminders, and wearable safety devices can provide the independence that seniors desire.

If you’re looking to give your residents the gift of independence, without compromising life safety or wellness, contact us at Tel-Tron.

Dignity Can’t Exist Without Independence

boyontoilet

Dignity at All Ages

It’s never cool to walk in on someone when they’re going to the bathroom. Even when that someone is 5. And you’re there to, you know, help. I have learned this the hard way. If a door is closed, knock. Dignity is important, even to a 5 year old.

Kids can teach you a lot about the value of dignity. And privacy. And independence. Further proof, if we needed it, that people don’t really change all that much when they get older. Their abilities may evolve, or in some cases devolve, but the need for autonomy remains the same. Dignity simply can’t exist without independence. It’s a fundamental component of happiness, whether you’re 5 or 95, and research supports this claim. Studies have repeatedly shown that maintaining independence is a primary goal and concern from many seniors.

Avoiding Dependence on Caregivers

A senior who enters an assisted living facility has been dressing himself and preparing his own meals his entire adult life. Slowly, however, with the well-intentioned care of an attentive staff, those tasks are taken over for him. Someone else pours his coffee, ties his shoes, and tells him when he can and can’t go out for a walk. All of this help can lead to helplessness.

Helpless Adult

Art Carr, Founder and President of Progressive Retirement Group, put it this way in a recent blog on the Senior Housing Forum: “…the cumulative effect of family, friends and/or healthcare professionals telling the senior that they CAN’T or SHOULDN’T continue doing specific tasks (e.g. laundry, yard work, cooking) and/or caregivers taking over responsibility for these functions weighs on the individual.  Ultimately, they’ll give in and become dependent on the caregiver – EVEN WHEN THEY COULD STILL DO IT THEMSELVES!”

Technology Aids Independence

Tel-Tron develops its products with independence in mind. We want your residents to maintain their independence and dignity for as long as possible. When technology is subtle and unobtrusive, it fits into a resident’s lifestyle, providing solutions that preserve privacy and enhance the assisted living experience. Tel-Tron’s Life-Safety products offer a wide range of customizable solutions to meet the needs of your Senior Living/Assisted Living facility, including:

Resident Check-In devices for Independent Living without intrusive staff checks.

Push-button call stations that blend in with the surrounding decor.

Incontinence alerts that provide silent alerts to caregivers.

Wearable wireless pendants for mobile, independent residents.

Automated wander-prevention solutions to reduce elopement risk.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss how Tel-Tron can keep your residents safe while maintaining their dignity.

ALFA 2012: Sharing Inspiring Stories of Dignity and Respect in Aging

Sharing Inspiring Stories of Dignity  and Respect in Aging

ALFA does a superb job at bringing important senior living issues to the forefront, but none may be as touching or as relevant to the purpose of what we do each day as the topic of lifestyle. Yes, there are many issues operators face such as staff development, real estate, regulations, and such.  However, those topics deal with the business side of things and that’s not why many of us got into this line of work.

At the recent ALFA Community 2012 event in Dallas, a number of sessions focused on dignity and respect, such as the session on “what senior living residents want”. During this session, eight seniors and adult children talked about what senior living life is like from the first day the resident and family starts researching communities, to daily life after the resident is settled in. One resident panelist, speaking about his initial community tour said it best: “It’s almost like it wasn’t a business. It was like she was inviting us into her home.” Powerful.

I love the annual Short Film competition held at the ALFA conference each year. Great tools for evangelizing this topic of dignity and respect result from the contest. This year’s winning entry was just as powerful and moving as last year’s. “Life is a Ball” helps explain that every person has a rich life story – and a reminder that the seniors in our communities are people, and not just an ADL checklist task or a head in the census. Last year’s winning entry, “Mind the Gap”, is a great story for younger caregivers and employees to watch in an effort to get the message across that many seniors have the same ageism issues that many younger people do and that we all need to take an active role in overcoming prejudices and stereotypes.

I invite you to share these stories of dignity and respect with your fellow employees via email or at your next staff meeting.

Do You Have a Program Designed to Reduce Fall Risk?

Senior woman in wheelchair with caregiver

How do you use technology to mitigate resident fall-risk & maximize independence?

The risk is real
The awareness related to fall risks over the last few years is staggering. One in five hip fractures results in a death within a year of the incident. One in four seniors that fall and fracture a hip, who used to live independently, spend at least the next year in an assisted living or nursing home environment. It’s also a little concerning how little, as an industry, we’ve done to mitigate the risk. Fall detection is largely a waste, the damage is done, and unless the resident is unconscious automated fall detection devices do little more than let you know the horse is out of the barn.

What can you do?
Fall prevention programs need to be comprehensive and targeted. Do you evaluate the medications your residents are taking and develop specific and targeted prevention programs if their medication puts them at increased risk? If a resident has had a previous fall, do you know the likelihood of them falling again compared to those who have never had a fall? Are you putting technology and processes in place to create an environment which reduces a resident’s risk of a repeat incident? Knowing the precursors of a fall is a critical component to prevent it from happening.

For further reading on the risks related to falls and the possible outcomes, often life threatening, visit the CDC’s Website on Falls for Older Adults .

If you don’t currently employ technology to prevent a fall then contact your sales representative
(sales@tel-tron.com) to talk about what it takes to be successfully implement a fall prevention strategy.

To learn more about the benefits of Tel-Tron’s unique fall management technology, click here.

Your residents. They’re why I get up in the morning.

As a technical support manager and representative for Tel-Tron, it’s easy for me to feel down some days.  After all, the only clients I talk to regularly are the people that have problems, and are frustrated.  When was the last time you called a product manufacturer’s technical support line to tell them how great their product worked?  See, I don’t get to talk to the 97% of our customers who didn’t call technical support in a given day.

Due to the nature of my position, I like to get out in the field from time to time to remind me of the reason for my career choice.  Recently, I took a trip to the New Orleans area and visited a couple communities.  I was there to fix a few problems, and make soe requested programming changes, at each.  The weather was hot (nearing 100 degrees) and humid. I was often working in a non-air-conditioned room and was literally dripping with sweat.  I was not in the best of moods.  However, something inevitably cheered me up.

I was sitting in the community’s lobby and trying to cool off.  Soft instrumental music was playing overhead, as it often does in a community like this.  Suddenly, from my right, I heard singing.  The song was “Someone to Watch Over Me” and an elderly lady was singing along with it.  Her voice was wonderful and I couldn’t help wondering if she had been a professional singer at some point in her life.  I immediately smiled and enjoyed her rendition.  She is why I continue to do technical support for Tel-Tron.

At another community, I was sitting in the lobby awaiting the manager after a long days’ work.  I was ready to call it a day after sitting in an uncomfortable chair for hours on end, watching data fly by on my computer.  An elderly gentleman sat next to me and we had an interesting conversation about his time in World War II.  He is why I love to do this.

I get up in the morning for these residents.  Helping you keep  your residents protected is the reason I can’t sleep some nights.  I know that my job is important to their quality of life and well-being.  I know that they are all individuals that have different needs.  It’s up to me to understand the wireless and life safety technology behind those needs and ensure it stays operational.    It bothers me to think about someone living in a community where there isn’t a well functioning emergency call system.  If anyone at Tel-Tron didn’t feel this same way, they wouldn’t work here.  It’s just part of who we are.

Never Miss a Staff Rounds Check Again!

Many senior living operators have a problem.  There staff is supposed to be checking on certain residents on a regular basis, but there is no way to prove that it was actually done.   A quick software upgrade to your Tel-Tron emergency call system and you can guarantee that you will never miss a room check again.

Simply install a “staff check-in” device in each area where the staff is supposed to show up.  Tell the software how often a staff person is supposed to be in that area (hourly, daily, weekly, etc.).  If the staff check-in device is not used in the time window you set-up, an alert will be displayed on the system, alerting management and staff that a check-in has been missed.

For example….Let’s suppose that you are supposed to be doing 2 hour room checks in your dimentia units.  First, you install a “staff-check” button in each unit.  Then, you tell the system (through the software) that each unit should have a staff visit every two hours.  Now, let’s pretend that it has been two hours and no one has pressed the “staff-check” device in Mrs. Smith’s room.  You will get an alarm on your system – pagers, console, text message – whatever — that says “Two Hour Check Missed – Mrs. Smith, Room 1.”  The only way to clear that alert is to actually go to Room 1 and press the staff-check button.

No one likes to talk about it, but every manager knows that FORCED COMPLIANCE with policies and procedures is the best way to make sure the appropriate actions are taken.   With “Staff Check-In” activated in your community, you can be sure that all of your rounds are being completed.

(You can use this for building rounds at night, too.  Put a staff-check button in hallways, libraries, laundry rooms, or anywhere you want your staff to be on a regular basis.  Then tell the system how often they should be there and you can be SURE that your staff did what they were supposed to do).

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