By 2050, the number of senior citizens in the United States is projected to nearly double, and the number of centenarians will grow tenfold. “With the aging demographic, we have more people needing more care,” says Steve Levy, executive VP and general counsel for Senior Lifestyle Corporation, which operates more than two hundred senior housing communities in twenty-six states. To address this need, Senior Lifestyle uses data analytics to create proactive solutions for advancing resident care.
Senior Lifestyle incorporates five aspects of health into its care model: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and mental. “When people move into independent living or assisted living, we want them to feel that they’re living at home,” Levy explains. By addressing residents’ needs holistically and expanding choices based on data-driven evidence, Senior Lifestyle strives to enhance residents’ lives and provide better care.
One way that Senior Lifestyle determines residents’ needs is through in-residence technology. In some communities, a smart tracking system learns a resident’s typical pattern of activity and reports exceptions, which can indicate health issues. For example, if a resident who typically uses the bathroom once during the night begins to go more frequently, the system will alert the care team, who can assess the situation and determine if there is a problem. “Activity that’s out of the ordinary can be an early indicator of something else—for example, in that case, a urinary tract infection,” Levy says. “The earlier that we can use data and technology to find out what’s going on with our residents, the more able we are to respond to their needs.”
In addition to tracking certain behaviors of individual residents, Senior Lifestyle analyzes data from across its portfolio to create new initiatives that have a broad effect. By looking portfolio-wide, management can determine which initiatives are producing positive results and replicate them elsewhere to improve resident care outcomes on a larger scale.
For example, care providers in dementia communities track exit-seeking behaviors, which could result in a resident leaving a safe environment. An increase in exit-seeking behaviors signals an issue that care providers can specifically address. “It lets us really zero in on what issues there might be,” Levy says.
“The earlier that we can use data and technology to find out what’s going on with our individual residents, the more able we are to respond to their needs.”
The solution might be a change in physical space, resident programming, or staff education. By analyzing real-time data, staff members can quickly implement changes to keep residents safe. “The care we provide with respect to residents is customized individually,” Levy says. “Initiatives are meant for a broader population, but we ultimately have the intent of having them drive individual resident care.”
Resident activity isn’t the only indication of a potential issue. Worker compensation claims, which pose a risk to the business, also indicate a potential issue for resident care. “If you have an improper resident transfer, there’s the possibility that the team member engaging in the transfer is going to hurt themselves, leading to a workers’ comp claim,” Levy says. “At the same time, they could injure the resident.”
To reduce these risks, Senior Lifestyle works with partners in the insurance industry to track claims and offer on-site and web-based education. Varied issues—such as compliance, legal, and resident care concerns—are entwined, as are their solutions. By expanding employee training, Senior Lifestyle can lower risks across the board and improve individual resident outcomes, Levy says.
But still more education is necessary, both for team members and for the public, Levy says. He wants people to understand more clearly what seniors housing providers can offer—and what they can and cannot do. For example, certain state regulations specify that residents can stay in assisted living communities until they need a certain level of care, at which point they likely transition to a skilled nursing facility. Although skilled nursing has certain clinical care benefits, it removes residents from their homes. “Assisted living is really a social model,” Levy says. “Having residents who socialize with each other, dine together, and otherwise engage in their community is a vital part of resident well-being.”
As the landscape of healthcare continues to evolve, Senior Lifestyle will look for opportunities to integrate further ancillary services, such as home health and rehabilitation. Levy says that the company will work to make sure that its residents are receiving a seamless continuum of care. He wants to continue refining the initial assessment process so residents can receive the highest quality care available as soon as they move into a Senior Lifestyle facility.
“One of the huge things that has changed in our industry is our ability to effectively assess residents’ needs,” Levy says. “The more accurate an assessment can be when a resident moves into our community, the better able we are to provide the care that’s necessary for that particular resident from a physical perspective and from a cognitive perspective.”
Technological advances, Levy says, will continue to improve experiences for residents, family, and team members. Individualized technology, such as assessment software and wearable tech, will continue to advance and allow for more personalized care. “Bigger data has arrived in our industry,” Levy says. “It was not as data-driven as it is now, and that data-driven nature will lead to better resident care and outcomes.”
Senior Lifestyle is working with industry associations and partners to produce more metrics that can be shared among providers. By partnering with others in the industry, Senior Lifestyle will be able to improve overall resident experience, Levy says, which will enable its residents to maintain better health for a longer period of time.