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    Others | 25 min read

    Workstream Webinar: How Assisted Living Businesses Are Adapting to Survive

    The coronavirus pandemic has left not a single industry untouched by its effects - whether it's temporary closure, cutting back on the workforce, or seeing a spike in recruitment brought on by increased demand. Some industries are feeling the impact more than others, with an increased risk to their workers as they continue to keep their doors open during this time. 

    In this webinar, we sit down with CEOs and business owners of several assisted living facilities to get first-hand insight on how they've adapted to counter hiring challenges, minimize risk of exposure, streamline communication, and restructure to survive.

    Lydia: Hey everyone! We're in the webinar today with assisted living centers. First, the webinar this week is all about frontline workers in the assisted living space – how they're coping with COVID, the messaging changes that they're making, even just the HR challenges and restructuring practices that are going on right now. Without further ado, I would love to pass it over to the panelists to introduce themselves, where you're based, and how your facility or service is structured. 

    Wei: My name is Wei, I am the CEO and founder of Clipboard Health. We help facilities connect with nurses and nursing assistance. We are a fully remote company, we have over 100 employees at this point, and we are mostly California-based but we've started expanding beyond California. 

    Francis: I'm Francis LeGasse, owner and CEO of Assured Assisted Living. We specialize in the small-care model. What that means is we've got 10 locations that are purpose-built ranch-style homes that have 8 to 12 residents, two staff members on shift, so we have a great staffing ratio. What’s really unique is that we built staff quarters apartments at most of our locations for our team members. It helps with continuity of care, their ability to have housing, and some of the other benefits that I think are really important as we see changes in long-term care. 

    Donzella: Hi, I am Donzella Burton, I'm out of Baltimore, Maryland, I’m the owner and CEO of Berkshire Hills & Assisted Living and Buckingham Manor. They are small residential assisted living facilities. Buckingham Manor is a 12-bed facility and Berkshire Hills is a 9-bed facility. Basically, we take on residents that have dementia that are 65+. 

    Meghan: I am Meghan, we’re located in San Diego California. [At The Arc of San Diego, we support individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We do that through employment services, day programs, but also our residential services where we operate 10 group homes of 6 beds per home throughout the San Diego region.

    Messaging in Assisted Living Homes

    Lydia: Thank you, guys, so much. I wanted to kick it off, Francis, this is your second webinar brainstorm session in the past month. I understand that you had one a few weeks ago with other assisted living homes talking about messaging. What do you think were some of the great takeaways from that as far as how centers can be positioning themselves right now, communicating with their employees and also externally? 

    Francis: Lydia, I think that’s a great question because I think right now during COVID, we're seeing a shift. The big consistent theme was talking about care, we're seeing more questions around: “How are you both providing care, what is your staffing ratios, what supplies are there for your frontline workers, how are you communicating with families?” So, I think it really comes down to putting your care model first, and for a long time, we were talking about hospitality and how important hospitality was, that's still an element. But families really want to know how you're keeping their loved ones safe, healthy, and engaged. That was the recurrent theme, making some shift away from hospitality-focused to care focused. 

    Q&A – External or Internal Cleaning Staff 

    Lydia: Interesting. We have a live Q&A, I have questions that have been collected ahead of time, but also as people tune in and want to ask questions, you are more than welcome to. One question that was submitted so far is from somebody who manages an assisted living home, and they're having a hard time hiring cleaners. Wondering with the panelists, have you hired external services for this, or have you had, I suppose, internal people step up to take on some of the additional work?

    Donzella: Normally with my staff, the housekeeping duties are a part of their pay, so I don't hire any outside housekeeping staff to come in. It is a part of the 12-hour shift at my staff works. It is their responsibility to make sure that the house is upkept. 

    Francis: We definitely upped our infection control protocol. We used to do it every couple of hours, we’re almost wiping down hard surfaces every hour. But it is by the direct care team right now just because we want fewer people coming in and out of the building quite frankly. That's the biggest concern, where the more outside people are coming in, the more possible asymptomatic people could be bringing it.

    Testing Requirements

    Lydia: I know right now with everything going, you’ve stepped up even just the requirements for having residents come back after they've been in hospitals or those who are coming into the space. Francis, how is that going? What are the testing requirements that you are maintaining?

    Francis: We are maintaining where we are getting negative testing from almost all of our new residents. If they're coming from skilled nursing or a hospital setting, we're really pushing for that 2-negative COVID testing. But still, the big thing that we want to keep tracking is knowing their symptoms. We really want to make sure we're tracking symptoms for 10 to 14 days, as well as getting those negative testing.

    Relaxed Laws and Uptake of Demand 

    Lydia: One upside of COVID-19 is that they've relaxed a lot of the laws between states, as far as letting nurses move between states, and also what certificates you need in advance. Wei, I was wondering if you could speak to this, what you were seeing with the nurses that are serving various facilities, and what documents do you need to collect? 

    Wei: I know that for certain states, they have relaxed the regulations, but they leave it effectively up to facilities to decide. Some of our facilities have relaxed requirements around, for example, physical tests, or it's okay that it is expired. Some are ok with even expired or having no evidence of a TB test. We've had only a few that been okay with having the CNA's or nurses from another state, that’s a lot rarer. They are more okay with expired licenses as long as it's still within the state. But across the board, especially for ones that are pretty desperate, they will be more willing to work with you on a case by case situation. We have this great healthcare professional who can work today, but we haven't been able to collect this document from them. Usually, we will be like “that's okay” and we just make sure that we have it in writing, so we have that shared understanding. But yeah, some relaxation generally across the board.

    Lydia: Are you seeing an uptake in demand right now from nursing homes? Perhaps you can share a little about how your company is structured and how you are serving them in general?

    Wei: We mostly just provide staff for some of these assisted living facilities and nursing homes. What we've seen is the demand is not uptake across the board, it’s really depending on where the community is. For example, facilities that are positive tend to see an uptake in demand there, or somewhere they have their own nurses going into quarantine for 14 days, it goes in cycles, then we have uptake in demand there, or places where there is some turnover right now. But in some places, they are saying like: “We don't want anyone from the outside because we want to make sure that we know every staff member, these are people who've been with us for a while, we have a more controlled environment.” That's the case for mostly some of the negative facilities who really want to keep the COVID negative, so they're actually really tight on restricting outside visitors, not just visitors, but outside staff. Again, we're seeing things across the board, uptake in some places, and a freeze in some other places.

    Lydia: Meghan, with The Arc, you are overseeing, I believe, 1,300 staff members that you have. You’re seeing an uptake in some places in terms of demand and people you need to fill, how are you able to spread people out across 1,300?

    Meghan: A big part of that is that we operate numerous different programs. We have day programs where individuals focus on their daily living skills, we have residential programs where there are supporting individuals living for group homes, and we have employment services. That's an area, especially with, in relation to COVID-19, we've seen a continuum of care because we support individuals with disabilities in their employment. They're, typically as a group, the most unemployed and underemployed within the United States. So, it's very important that we're able to maintain those services and support those individuals as everybody goes through this economic downturn and being able to maintain services and employment as they can. A lot of our people that we support are those frontline workers. We've been able to support them as they need to transition into wearing PPE at their employment sites, being able to provide different services. But also, we've transitioned where our day programs, we closed down but we're able to continue paying staff, and transition some of those into our other programs to be able to maintain their employment, but also being able to maintain those services for a population that we support that are especially vulnerable during these time periods. So, being able to have those resources, we’re also able to provide staffing services to other areas, which is a great factor in the stability of our staff who have been with us for a long time, and their willingness to go and support other programs that may be needed of some additional assistance. 

    Reducing Shift Lengths

    Lydia: Wonderful. Donzella, I believe you’ve reduced the shift length. I'm curious about what led to that change and how it's going.

    Donzella: I did it for the month of April because I didn't want different staff coming in and out. So, I figured that if I cut down on the number of people that were coming in and out, I would make sure that my residents would remain safe. I guess in the beginning, I was not sure how this whole COVID-19 worked. I wasn't sure who was affected, who could be affected. I think at first, I was a little scared, I would say I kind of panicked and I didn’t pivot, so I panicked. So, I said, you know what staff, “This is what I need to do at first.” Because I know I'm already down with clients right now, I'm not bringing anybody because I'm afraid, number one, and they kind of worked with me. So, the month of May I brought everyone back, and as Francis said, everyone’s wearing their PPE, we kind of have a hold on it in regard to how this whole thing works. We’re doing the daily temperatures in the morning and in the evening with our residents and with our staff, and we’re also doing the bibles. The doctor also is still visiting our residents every couple of weeks just to make sure everything is intact.

    Scoring of Facilities

    Lydia: That is great. Wei, I know with the nurses that you have going into facilities; you're actually having the nurses score the facilities that they go into. I'm curious like how the scores have changed since there's been a COVID breakout, and how important are factors like staff-to-resident ratio is when the nurses are choosing where to work.

    Wei: Before, we would see that the staff-to-patient ratio matters a lot. But now, that’s secondary to whether or not there are COVID patients, to begin with. I think that's taken priority, what they want to know is are there COVID patients, and therefore can I get paid more if I'm working with these COVID-positive facilities. So, we're seeing more of that. In terms of any changes, I would say that it's been on the plus side because what we're seeing is a lot of facilities are taking this super seriously. I think in many ways, many facilities have stepped it up in terms of how they're organizing their facilities, keeping things clean, and keeping things organized. So, I think the in terms of the ratings, we've seen an uptake in terms of the quality of their facilities because so many people have been like: “Okay, we know we used to be disorganized, but now we can't really afford to be because of all these residents. Resident care is number one, and we want to make sure that everyone is staying healthy and safe.” So, that's been a pleasant surprise. 

    Video and Other Tools

    Lydia: It's great to hear. I know that there have been a lot of other changes since COVID broke out, things that facilities have to implement. One of those is certainly just leveraging video a lot more. Meghan, I believe you were one of the earlier adopters of making the switch to video. When did you make that switch, and how has it been going as far as moving your LMS over to video?

    Meghan: Our learning management system is focused primarily on the healthcare field, and they distributed the ability to use virtual training sessions in addition to the fact that it was already a web-based portal. So, in mid-March, we midway through our new hire orientation transferred all of our staff so that they were attending virtual orientation instead of coming in in groups. We've maintained that for the past couple of months, which has been a learning experience not only for our presenters but also for our new employees. And we highlight that you’ve got to have a lot of grip in this time frame. The ability to have some agility and providing services and handling whatever is going to come with you is important in this field, to begin with, and this is something that we've transitioned significantly. Red Cross has also been very supportive in that they put together a blended learning style for CPR, which is essential training for our staff. We are now having them do that portion online, and then they do a skills assessment that we are able to do in person in small batches. So, everybody's been really supportive, and I think that our willingness to try out these new things definitely speaks highly of our staff, but also speaks highly of the people who are wanting to move into this field. This is something that requires a lot of heart in order to serve folks and so the ability to transfer that into a skill set that they may not have initially is very important. We also have transitioned all of our recruitment processes to be either Zoom or FaceTime interviews, and people have been very supportive of that as well. I think that our highlight of being willing to acknowledge that this is an ongoing issue and we're protecting our candidates’ safety, our participants’ safety, our existing staff’s safety, and that is our priority first and foremost, and then we're moving forward with the times. We expect that we'll be using a lot of these as things happen in the future. We normally have about 20 staff in orientation, we're certainly not planning on having large groups clustering anytime soon in the San Diego region. So, that's something that will be continuing to use in the future as well.

    Lydia: It's great to hear. Donzella, I know you’ve also been using FaceTime. But as a way for residents to connect with their families, how is it going? I'm struggling to get my grandmother to adopt FaceTime, so I'm curious how are the residents taking it?

    Donzella: It's funny because I have a psychiatrist that oversees my facilities as well. He FaceTimes with my residents and they say: “What the heck is this? How are you seeing me?” It is funny, challenging but funny. Normally, I would set up the FaceTime, I use my phone so I can maneuver with it, but it works. 

    Lydia: Maybe someday. I have 2 grandparents who are in their 90s, and both of them are just like “no, it’s not happening”. 

    Francis: What we found out is we have to have staff there doing it. If we just give them an iPad or phone and say “Here, call your loved one,” it doesn't go well. We’re also trying out the Facebook portal device to see how that goes because we're finding that might be an easier way to connect because it can stand on its own versus someone having to hold it, and they're relatively affordable. So, we’re playing around with that as another way for our residents.

    Lydia: Francis, you also use Serenity, I believe, could you talk about that?

    Francis: Serenity Engage, Serenity App is a startup that was based out of Denver here, and it is an HIPAA-compliant communication platform. It's an app on the phone that we have a channel like Slack for each of our residents in that particular location, and then the POA is the main contact in that channel. The POA can then share that with grandkids, whoever they want to get access to that channel, so if we upload one photo or send a text on that channel, everybody can get it. It helps us with sharing information clearer, faster, easier, versus maybe calling four or five different family members, so we're finding an improvement in the ease of access for streamlining communication. 

    Lydia: Very cool. Are there any other new tools that you’ve come across? When we chat in the prep call, you joked that a lot of health care facilities can be 10 to 15 years behind in technology, and now there's been a sudden rush to catch up. 

    Francis: Yeah, I'm super excited. I love technology and efficiency creation that it can give. Obviously, early-adopting can be a struggle, but I think long-term, it is how we provide better care, better oversight, better communication. Another one that we've been looking at is Rendever. It's a virtual reality platform that's not necessarily tied to a headset but projected to a TV. So, you can do some type of engagement where, if my loved one has a headset or the ability to do that at home, we could both look like we're sitting on the couch having a conversation.

    Lydia: Oh my gosh, the future is here. Wei, with your staff, you get the opportunity to go into a number of nursing homes, since you're sending nurses to fill shifts and work all over the place. Are there any exciting things that you've heard about some of the facilities that others might be interested in learning?

    Wei: I was going to say that speaking of video orientation, some of our facilities are offering phone orientation, which was really unusual to me. Video made a lot more sense because we can see the facility, but for us, I guess some of them are not used to video for whatever reason, they're like, “we'll just do it over the phone.” To be honest, in terms of the day to day, it hasn't changed that much. I think there's just a lot more appreciation for the staff, which has been really nice. Because some of these people, I think you almost take it for granted in the world pre-pandemic, and now with everything that's going on, there's so much more appreciation for all the work that they do. I think our nurses are feeling happier working, and again some of them are offering higher pay which helped them a lot, and also more thankfulness for the fact that they are there, to begin with. 

    Help and Donations

    Lydia: Every night, I watch Jimmy Kimmel, and they feature nurses on there, and there's been this real focus on them as the heroes during all of this. If local restaurants or other businesses would like to donate food or other things, how can they do that? Meghan, would you be able to speak to that with The Arc, and curious how companies in San Francisco could be connected with you? For Workstream, it is not just for assisted living, we have hundreds and hundreds of restaurant locations, and I'd love to be able to share, what can we do, what we help you provide?

    Meghan: Definitely. Our marketing and development team consolidates all of our donations and different forums that come together. Because we're so spread out throughout the San Diego region, that something up in San Marcos isn’t going necessarily be the same provider down in El Cajon. We’ve been able to identify that support is needed around these areas. We're a non-profit, so we're operating in the form of most of our funding comes from the state. The state of California is dealing with significant budget issues as well, so being able to maintain those standards is always a concern for us. Focusing through on the development team but also being able to just recognize that these workers are essential and that they are providing support services ongoing that are necessary for day-to-day life for all of the individuals that we serve, is really important.

    Q&A – COVID-Positive Clinicians and Their Compensations

    Lydia: That’s great. Alison Sproul said: “I've noticed that different states are handling things pretty differently. For across multiple geographies, have you been able to get workers compensation improved for your clinicians who have contracted COVID-19 will at work for you?” Would anyone like to take that?

    Francis: I haven't had an issue, we have not had that come up as a challenge yet, I really haven't looked into it. But there is definitely some concern even with general liability insurance if it would be applicable during the time of COVID. So, I think that's something people have to start looking into. It hasn't come across my desk yet as a problem that we had figured out, but I’m going to look at it now. That's a great question.

    Expansion Plans

    Lydia: For people who have tuned in late, Francis is based in Denver Colorado, Donzella’s facilities are based in Maryland, Meghan is with The Ark in San Diego California, and Wei is the CEO of Clipboard which helps staff nurses for shifts. I suppose we can create a chance to talk about what cities are you currently in, and where are you planning to expand in the near future?

    Wei: We're mostly in California and the places that we're probably going to go, Colorado is on our roadmap. For this year, we’re all going to go to Colorado, we’re looking at places in Texas, and other places that are like Pacific Northwest, west/central coast, is some of our focus areas for the rest of the year.

    Q&A – Workstream and How It Has Helped The Panelists

    Lydia: Another question we just got: “Can I know a little bit more about Workstream and how it helps the panelists?” Wei, you’re one of our most recent adopters, maybe if you would like to speak to that?

    Wei: I’m not using it day to day, but I know our team loves you guys. We’ve used you guys to help us acquire nurses onto our platform and I know that our head of marketing has spoken really highly of you. To be honest, he was very skeptical at first. I think he actually said: “We’re not going to use Workstream,” but then I encouraged him to give it a shot, and he said it's been working out super well in terms of getting more nurses for these shifts. 

    Lydia: That's great to hear. One other thing as background, Workstream is a way to be able to post to multiple job boards and send the screen questions. I know with Clipboard, one of the things that comes up a lot is collecting all of the various certificates that the nurses have. So, being able to streamline the paperwork collection to get them going and doing the virtual interviews, also identifying tax credits, is something that we're really focused on in this quarter. If people are interested, you can ping me after at lydia@workstream.us. Happy to help with that, but we really want to keep this off of Workstream. It’s not just a Workstream webinar, we’re really trying to help the community understand what’s going on. 

    Q&A – Keeping Morale High and Tips for Assisted Living Facilities

    Lydia: John asked: “How folks have been able to keep morale high during such volatile times?” Donzella, would you be able to share with that, how are you with your team members keeping morale high? You’re also a coach. I see you have a huge following of people having assisted living facilities. By the way, Donzella has thousands and thousands of people who either have facilities or who want to, following you. So, what are some of your tips for people?

    Donzella: Because I have smaller facilities. Keeping the morale high in my facilities, I’m always there, so I’m always engaged with my staff and with my residence. I always try to make sure I bring up snacks all the time, I have word games and stuff like that, and I always just try to make sure that everybody's happy. And if my staff is tired for any reason, I always just try to pick up a few hours, I’ll work, and the staff they appreciate that. I know it's hard for everyone that’s involved. Not just for the people in the residence, but the staff too. They have families at home, and they want to spend time with their families, and they need to be safe as well. So, I just trying to make sure that everybody is happy across the board. And yes, as you mentioned, I am an assistant living educator, they call me the assistant living coach. I do teach individuals on how to start their assistant living businesses from start to finish. I started that business maybe 2 years ago, and it’s great. 

    Lydia: What made you get into being an assisted living coach?

    Donzella: I got “thrown” into being an assisted living owner. I knew nothing about healthcare whatsoever, I was a nine-to-fiver in corporate America, I’m originally from Pennsylvania, and I moved to Maryland. Someone introduce me to assisted living, and I got into the whole assisted living, and it’s going on for 9 years, and I would always get questions or calls: “How do you start an assisted living? How do you do this stuff?” You know what, I need to start putting a price tag on this stuff. So, I turned it into a business and it’s doing very well. I started first with an 8-week assisted living coaching program that is coming up, and I’m only taking 10 people at a time because I want to be able to give them that undivided attention. But it’s great. It’s a great tool people because a lot of times they’re Googling, trying to find information, and they’re spending a lot of unnecessary money because they don't know the right questions to ask. So, they come to me and I help get their business up and running. 

    Managing Assisted Living Centers – Shifting Towards Smaller Groups

    Lydia: That's wonderful. I think that there's also, Francis touched on this earlier, this shift towards “bigger isn't better.” There are a lot of smaller assisted living centers coming out. Francis, with that, I believe in our previous prep call, you mentioned that some of the bigger centers are splitting up into smaller groups right now. How is that going and what spurred that? 

    Francis: I think they are trying to figure that out. Because what's happening right now, at least in Colorado, if you have two cases or more COVID-positive in any one location, you have to go through a basic 28-day quarantine or shut down where you can't move anybody in. But I also think we're starting to realize with the staffing challenges, how do we not overload our staff? Some places that are short-staffed, you could have one home health aide or CNA responsible for 10 to 14 residents. That's a lot of stress on them. Now that we’re burning them out a little bit more as well, I think as Donzella said, it's important to find those bright spots, to have a sense of positivity, create a sense of welcoming and warm that you feel you're being heard as a direct care partner. And if you're not being heard, you’re going to get frustrated. I think that's part of what we have to do better, is find ways to engage our staff, not just our residents, and I think it goes beyond the monetary compensation. It has to be through gift cards or party. Tomorrow we're doing parties at all of our houses where we brought in Chick-Fil-A and we're going to do some fun for the residents and staff tomorrow. So, we're trying to do those little things to keep morale up since we can't do outings or can't get off the site as much. 

    Lydia: Let us know next time, we might be able to connect you, we have a lot of Chick-Fil-A's that use Workstream. We’re always connecting them with other people on the platform, they would like this. And Francis, I know that with your staff, you have staff living with the residents in the same housing. Is there any sort of additional precautions or concerns that you have because of COVID?

    Francis: It’s getting conscious of our staff not going off-site even. For a long time, Colorado was under Stay-At-Home order, we just released that to a Safer-At-Home order. So, it's being mindful of how much they're going off-site as well, to trying to encourage them to do as many delivery foods. We’re helping out as much as we can with getting food delivered on-site as well. Just being conscious of what their interactions are and who they're interacting with. Because again, they could be an asymptomatic carrier and vice versa, so trying to be conscious, now that we're in this more relaxed state of where they're going, what they're doing, trying to really reinforce that. 

    Nurse Appreciation Week

    Lydia: We got another question. Would panelists be willing to share what they did for nurse appreciation week? What were some of the best-received ways to show your love for clinicians? I leave this one open, I've been curious, are there any things that you’ve heard that your nurses were really excited about, Meghan, Donzella, special nurse appreciation week things? 

    Donzella: Unfortunately, I would say not. The nurses that come into my facilities are contract workers, so I may only see them once every 45 days, so I would say no.

    Meghan: We have a pretty small nursing team, so we kind of focused in on individual recognition for each of them because our nurse administrator managed that with her three nurses that oversee our ten homes. The other big factor for us was direct support week, which is in October. We provided personalized thank you cards from our CEO, we provided swag, we gave everybody “We love our DSPs” hats, things of that nature. Recognizing all of the people involved, the nurses, our specialized care that we certainly appreciate on every resource, but really also being able to provide that support to everybody who's working in these facilities, and we all recognize that – from the staff that is providing that direct care to the if you have outside janitorial staff coming in. All of the different areas, this is ongoing support. Making sure that those people are recognized on a regular basis, we've been doing individual shout outs to our different providers on social media as well with the identification of specialized services that they provided, whether that's remote services that we're providing to our individuals, or whether that's something where we're recognizing the group as they've transitioned part of their population. I think every little portion helps but that's a big aspect for our organization anyways. We have 1,300 staff located all throughout the county. Their recognition day-to-day by their immediate managers is, everybody knows you quit a boss. Those ongoing aspects that people provide, like Donzella did it perfectly. She's like: “Hey, I show up, I give you rest breaks, I provide you with snacks, I show you how much I care about you.” That's what it all comes down to, is showing them how much they’re appreciated on a regular day-to-day basis, not just because this is happening right now. 

    Q&A – Unique Communication Challenges

    Lydia: I love that point that you quit a boss. I always tell people there are no bad employees, there are only bad hires and bad managers. It’s either it was the wrong person from day one, or this was a bad manager who's not elevating and cultivating that. Thanks, guys. One more question for Meghan, somebody said: “I would love to hear more about the unique challenges you and your team are facing with developmental disability residents.” I guess right now with what's going on in the world and all the negative news, how is that going? Have you had to do special training to understand how to communicate or calm people down with this?

    Meghan: That's our regular operations since that's the population that we serve in numerous forms. I can tell you that there's a higher level of concern. Being able to provide information around, it's a lot harder to describe why you can't leave the house, why they are regular programs, these are often individuals who thrive on structure. Having that structure removed has been a challenge. But thankfully, the continuum of care of having staff who have been there and are supportive and being able to explain why it is that we're staying at home, we're staying safer. We've been providing a lot more remote services, so people are getting to still work on some of their daily living skills via FaceTime. That has been really supportive, we’ve had a lot of participants who are very excited about all of that. But it's also a scary time. It's also a concern around. These are individuals who often have been sidelined in society and there are concerns that that's going to happen more. So, making sure that there is still an inclusive population, we're still working. A lot of the people that we support are those frontline workers. They're working in the grocery stores, they're working in the different areas where they're getting that recognition, and so we're continuing to support them in that. But I think that there's definitely a heightened concern within that community as they move forward towards more and more integration as time goes on, and this is a set-back. 

    Lydia: Francis, with your community, how have you helped manage this stress and explaining to the elderly community? Are there additional new steps you've taken there?

    Francis: Yes. The majority of our residents have a cognitive impairment, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed dementia. So, it's a fine line. Some will be able to understand that there is a germ out there, that's why we're not able to physically connect with their family, that's why we’re doing the virtual FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Zoom visits. Some you repeat it too much and they feed in the negativity of it, so you can see a change in their depression almost because they get concerned that all this is going to negatively affect us. So, we try to keep it positive. We don't really have the news on too much, our motto is not encouraging residents to stay in their rooms, we really want them out of their room so we can engage them from a staff standpoint so that we don't get that perpetual isolation and negativity that, I feel like if you turn the news on, it can be shocking. That's really what our motto is, is trying to get outside. You’ve got great weather right now in Colorado, all of our houses have a patio or a back porch that we try to get out and have lunch and spend days outside. The sunshine helps with positivity, and a positive attitude goes a long way.

    Q&A – Symptom Tracker Apps

    Lydia: That's awesome. In San Francisco, people will shout and clap; in New York, there's a lot more of the pan batting; in Italy, they are singing; but howling, that’s awesome, I wish that’s where I’m at. Another question from Rosemary Jordan: “Are any of you using or thinking about using symptom tracker apps? Such as the one announced this week called Protectwell, it's the United-Microsoft partnership.

    Francis: We are already putting all that information in our electronic mar. We use an electronic medication record, so we're already tracking it that way. I haven't looked at any of those apps, but we really want to keep fewer systems that have to share data between them, I think that’s better right now. Unless there's something really revolution where they can streamline the chat between the two systems, we probably going to keep everything in our E-mar, which is what we’ve been doing since March anyways.

    Lydia: I want to be respectful of everyone's time since I know you're so busy. Otherwise, any questions you have for myself at Workstream or for the panelists, I can pass along to them. My email is lydia@workstream.us, happy to pass along other questions. This is really great having all of you. Like I said at the beginning, we’ll be sending each of you a book “Edge: How to Turn Adversity into Advantage” which is our panelists for next week if you'd like to tune in again. Also, I'd like to invite any people who tuned in this time for it. Thank you, everyone, for tuning in, talk to you soon, bye.

    In summary: We hear it straight from administrators and owners of assisted living businesses - how they're striving to maintain a positive environment for staff and residents alike, adopting new communication methods, applying learnings, and changing to meet fluctuating demand. 

    Workstream has helped numerous clients in the senior living industry, and we can help you overcome hiring challenges, too. Contact us today to find out more. 

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    Lydia Fayal

    Lydia Fayal Hall is Head of Marketing at Workstream. She previously held leadership roles at OneSignal and Chalkup, acquired by Microsoft. Lydia has written for publications including The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. She is an alum of UPenn, Johns Hopkins, and YCombinator IK12. Originally from Stonington, CT, Lydia now resides in San Francisco, CA with her Australian Shepherd, Indy.

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