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5 Ways to Overcome Senior Living Communities’ Biggest Challenges in 2024 

Make it a successful year for your senior living community with a streamlined, connected operational solution.

Content Team, 6th December 2023

With today’s financial markets, rising costs, staffing shortages, and higher care standards, senior living operators will face their share of challenges in 2024. But with those challenges come opportunities to simplify business efficiencies, improve performance, and better support your staff and community when backed with the right operating system in place.

Many senior living communities rely on patchworked solutions, but this instantly puts you at a disadvantage in an increasingly competitive market. When your solutions don’t talk to each other, your staff is stuck manually transferring information, which often leads to reporting errors, data inconsistencies, and hours spent creating reports.

On top of that, they must train on multiple interfaces, further complicating operations. Maintaining multiple solutions with individual data platforms is also more costly and requires additional support for each system – both of which make it more difficult to scale the business and control costs.

To get ahead in 2024, you need a more connected operational approach to navigate today’s complexities. By connecting your many workflows with a single data source, you gain actionable visibility into every aspect of your senior living business. This clarity allows you to confidently make the most impactful business decisions that bring more growth opportunities, streamline operations, and support better care at scale.

Let’s take a look at five ways you can overcome some of the biggest challenges in 2024 with an integrated software system for more efficient operations.

1. Build an Engaged Workforce 

As the senior population continues to explode, the demand for caregivers grows with it. Despite this demand, senior living staffing shortages and high turnover remain a problem going into 2024.

With the physical and emotional drain many caregivers feel, they need more support if senior living communities expect to maintain the same level of care and control their workforce costs. Of course, many caregivers are looking for better pay and benefits, but that alone isn’t enough. Senior living caregivers also need a healthier work environment that prioritizes their well-being, helps them work more efficiently, and improves job satisfaction.

For instance, scheduling is an especially big challenge that leads to burnout when not balanced across your team. With a senior living operating system, you can identify burdensome workloads for each shift and easily make assignment or scheduling adjustments to ensure your caregivers aren’t overworked without dropping the level of care or increasing labor costs.

Senior living software automation also reduces caregivers’ administrative workload. Caregivers’ time is best spent on residents, but too often, they’re stretched thin with mountains of administrative tasks, such as filing paperwork, tracking records, and reporting on compliance. Automation takes these tasks out of your caregivers’ hands, so they can spend their time offering one-on-one care and improving the resident experience.

Caregivers entered this field because they are passionate about providing seniors with dignified, high-quality care. Many senior living caregivers don’t want to leave the industry, but they can only work in those stressful conditions for so long before it becomes too taxing. If you can deliver a more supportive culture that puts care at the forefront, you will have a more engaged staff that’s committed to your community for the long term.

2. Make Data-Driven Decisions

When senior living communities rely on manual reporting and spreadsheets from different data sources, reporting errors and incomplete metrics often inform their decisions. Not only does this lead to operational inefficiencies, care lapses, and poor performance but it also puts you at greater compliance risk.

With integrated senior living software, the system automatically streamlines your data into one digital dashboard. From this platform, you can compare and analyze data in real time and run customized reports. These reports instantly give you actionable insights that allow you to proactively identify trends and issues, pinpoint risks, maximize revenue opportunities, and enhance care.

Senior living communities can even use this software to easily establish critical benchmarks for measuring performance, evaluating areas for improvement, and setting realistic goals. As AI continues to advance, you’ll also see smarter predictive analytics, which is crucial for smart planning and smoother operations. Predictive analytics forecast community expansion efforts, maintenance needs, resource allocation, and resident health care needs, giving you a more accurate picture of how to scale your business.

3. Deliver Top-Notch Care to Happier Residents

Delivering superior care and a positive resident experience are at the heart of every senior living community’s mission. While these may be common goals, they’re certainly not easy to achieve.

All seniors have their unique care requirements, and so many seniors say goodbye to their long-term homes and a sense of independence as they make this life-changing transition. Senior living operators need a system that drives compassion and care at scale to build a more connected resident community during this emotionally charged time.

By leveraging purpose-built senior living software, you can ditch those paper-based charts and instead create personalized resident care profiles for each community member. Any care changes are made in real time in a centralized location, so all caregivers have access to the most up-to-date information. Caregivers can even use these profiles to note personal preferences and deepen their connection with residents.

With better resident engagement and care plans, you can make your community feel like home. Happier residents are more likely to stay put for better occupancy rates as well as recommend your community to their other friends.

4. Turn Leads Into Residents

Meeting occupancy goals has long been an issue for senior living communities, and that challenge isn’t going away in 2024. In fact, during a recent Aline webinar, “Aline on the Future of Senior Living,” 50% of attendees cited this as their top challenge for the upcoming year.

An infographic of a pie chart showing the top senior living challenges of 2024 based on webinar attendees.

Of course, turning leads into residents will improve those low occupancy rates, but the old ways clearly aren’t working. Instead, an integrated, automated CRM system tracks every referral source, interaction, sales note, and scheduled meeting.

Once the integrated CRM funnels all your data to one place, you can then build customizable dashboards, create visual KPI and performance trackers, send follow-up communications, and generate reports to share with team members and leadership. These automated workflows allow your sales team to focus on building the prospect relationship and eliminate archaic manual work – both of which help shorten the sales cycle.

Besides better workflows, personalization is a powerful conversion strategy for any industry, but this is especially true for senior living communities. Every senior has different physical, mental, and emotional care needs.

With marketing automation, you can create custom, multi-channel digital marketing campaigns that are aimed at different segments within your prospecting list, such as age, location, health concerns, and activity level. One message doesn’t fit all when it comes to choosing a senior living community, and taking a more personalized approach helps you differentiate your community in a competitive marketplace.

Once those prospects become residents, an integrated CRM also makes it simple to stay closely connected with family members and give the onboarding and care teams access to personalized care plans agreed upon during the sales process. This ensures new residents have a positive transitional experience, making it more likely they’ll settle in for the long term and pass on satisfied word-of-mouth referrals.

5. Grow a Profitable Portfolio

Despite today’s higher interest rates and inflation, investors are still looking for expansion opportunities, but they’re even more cautious about their investments. While this means fewer investment opportunities may come around in 2024, the senior living community operators that streamline their financial reporting, implement efficient accounting and billing workflows, and clearly demonstrate their profitability will be in a strong position to close those expansion deals.

Rather than gathering your financials through a collection of outdated spreadsheets, today’s senior living software allows you to manage all revenue points from one system. This allows you to set up automatic bill payments to improve cash flow, and the software instantly reflects any changes to care to ensure you accurately capture revenue for every service delivered. On top of billing, you can access data that assesses market conditions to make more informed pricing decisions.

Senior living communities also come with their own financial challenges, specifically when it comes to Medicaid. Today’s software automatically tracks Medicaid reimbursements and any additional billing or changes to care.

Beyond examining a senior living community’s financials, investors also want to understand your operational efficiency, regulatory compliance, resident acuity, occupancy rates, expansion potential, and staffing needs and expertise. Using one central system makes it simple to give investors the visibility they need to assess your community, and that seamless data presentation gives potential investors confidence that you run your community with the utmost efficiency.

Find Success With Better Data

This is your year to thrive. Don’t let these challenges hold back your senior living community — take this an opportunity to get ahead in this competitive market.

For more ways you can leverage smarter, deeper data to thrive in 2024, download our free guide “Senior Living Operators: Better Manage Revenue Workflows With Integrated Data.” This guide will show you how to maximize revenue, free cash flow, increase efficiency, and improve oversight to help you find success in this challenging market.

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