I believe in hugs. I’ll tell you why, but first, let me ask you a question: How many residents in your senior living community are, at this very moment, feeling isolated and lonely because they are just that — alone?
They have no family who can visit them. No one to ask about their day. No one to sit with them and watch the latest episode of The Great British Baking Show and debate which baker has the best-looking showstopper cake.
You can estimate how many residents under your roof are experiencing loneliness right now, but more importantly, which ones? Do you know for sure?
It’s understandable if you don’t. You and your staff can’t be everywhere at once. There isn’t enough time to handle your day-to-day responsibilities and on top of that check in with every resident to see who might be secluded and sad, versus the one who is enjoying a visit from their Nephew Fred.
Fred’s a Regular Here
You don’t know Fred? Well, it’s hard to keep track of every person coming and going from the building, though you know it’s important.
You have the paper check-in books at the front desk you can always refer to if a problem occurs. But that’s after the fact. How do you keep your residents safe before anything happens?
By the way, Fred drives an hour every Wednesday to visit his Aunt Margie. He’s allowed here.
But Not That Guy
That guy who came in carrying a briefcase and took the staircase to the second floor? You might want to see where he’s going. He doesn’t know anyone here.
Yes, it’s head-spinning, the things that go into making sure your residents are as well-adjusted, safe, and comfortable as possible.
I’ll bet you could use a hug about now.
We’ll get to the hugs, I promise. Let’s first take some of the strain off your shoulders.
Built for Operators, Built by Operators
Charles Mann of Accushield (a Foresight partner) knows these concerns and the other challenges that go into operating a senior living community because he’s been there. As the former director of a community, Charles, along with the Accushield team, utilized his knowledge and experience to create a tablet-based kiosk that lets you do away with manual log-in sheets and replaces them with a streamlined sign-in and health screening process for all visitors, staff, third-party caregivers, and residents, letting you know who enters and exits your building.
Starting to feel the load lift already, aren’t you? That’s because Accushield’s kiosk is for operators, built by operators. They understand your needs, as well as those of the people in your care.
Where Is the Love?
In his previous position as Executive Director of a community, Charles became aware that many residents went weeks, sometimes months, without a single visitor. (Not everyone has a Nephew Fred.)
Knowing this type of loneliness can lead to depression, the onset of dementia, heart troubles, and other physical and mental health issues, the Accushield system was designed with a special additional feature, the Love Meter.
The Love Meter is a unique feature that ranks residents according to the number of visitors they receive. Those with the fewest guests are listed at the top of the web-based dashboard, allowing staff members to easily see who might need a little extra attention. Click HERE for a fun video on how you can use this tool.
Back to Hugs
And this brings me to why I believe in hugs.
When my dad was in an assisted living community, the year before he passed away, I was grateful to be in a position in my life where I could be with him every day. Walking to and from dad’s apartment to his exercise class, or to the courtyard on sunny days, I became painfully aware of the residents who had no such family or friends for even occasional visits, as we would pass the often open doors to their apartments.
Thinking it had to do with safety, one day I asked an aide, “Why do so many of them keep their doors open all day?”
Her reply? “Hope.”
The hope that someone will stop in to admire the newest photos of their great grandbaby who they’ve never met in person because their family lives on the other side of the country. The hope that someone will come in to chat about anything, even if it’s just about the weather. The hope that if even for a moment this will be the day someone sees them — in a society that values youth, seniors often say they feel they’ve become invisible.
From then on, each time I saw someone who I thought might be feeling lonely, Dad and I would stop and talk, or at the least give them a hug and say hello.
A Special Thank You Hug
One day there was a knock on the door of Dad’s apartment. A woman I didn’t know handed me a card. Her mother had passed away, and she was in town to handle arrangements.
“The aides told me I could find you here. I wanted to thank you — though she didn’t know your name, my mom told me on the phone that you often passed by her room with your father and you always gave her hugs. I live on the other side of the country, and I felt bad I couldn’t be here with her. You made her feel less lonely. And it made me feel a little better too. So, thank you.”
She gave me a hug and went to pack up her mother’s apartment.
All You Need Is Love
You never know when a smile, a simple greeting, or a hug, will make all the difference. With a quick look at the Accushield dashboard, you know immediately who hasn’t had a visitor in a while and could use even just a few minutes of your or your staff’s attention. And Accushield lets you know exactly who is coming and going in your community. A safety feature that is as reassuring to Nephew Fred as it is to you.
You aren’t alone in the battle against loneliness in your community. Schedule a 15-minute demo today with Accushield and their oh-so-needed Love Meter.
By MaryLee Herrmann, Senior Living Foresight