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William Henry PhD – Perspectives – Architect’s REAL Viewpoint

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2018 Florida Annual Senior Living Conference

“The Carrots And Sticks”

By William Henry, PhD

As a first time attendee at the Florida Senior Living Conference, I learned a great deal about the latest industry wide issues from the presentations and direct interviews with many of the presenters. Many of these experts are colleagues from the legal profession we serve as architects, engineers, and forensic design experts. These are the summary of my takeaways.

THE LOOMING WORKFORCE SHORTAGE IN THE SENIOR LIVING INDUSTRY

The 2018 Senior Living Conference, held from July 23rd through the 25th in Ft. Lauderdale, addressed the looming workforce shortage. The focus of the conference was on staff recruitment to the industry, proper training, and staff retention. Complicating the scarcity of available qualified staff is competition with other medical support industries. Competing for staff to manage and to provide medical support services to senior living facility residents partially derives from acute care facility employers such as hospitals, surgical centers, and even large-scale nursing home chains. Apparently, the senior housing industry has just begun to compete for recent graduates of colleges and technical schools in the nursing field. That is surprising to most people in the construction industry who have bemoaned the labor shortages and hit the recruiting path to campuses long ago.

Old Man

DIFFERENTIATION BETWEEN SENIOR LIVING AND ACUTE CARE CAREERS

Evidently, an objective of the conference planners was to differentiate a career in senior living from those in acute care by emphasizing the compassion element. Recruits need to display a higher level of empathy in providing care for the elderly as opposed to those in acute care. To dramatize this differentiation, two high-energy speakers from HR departments attempted to “amp up” attendees by encouraging direct positive engagement with others in the crowd. This tactic emphasized the need for those in the senior living field to “put down their phones” and interact with the residents and other staff members in order to create a more nurturing environment. They have also found recruiters need to do a better job communicating the environment that exists in a senior living center. Those coming from acute care will experience a culture shock if not thoroughly prepared for the change of pace and energy going from a hospital environment to that of senior care.

THE “CARROTS AND THE STICKS” OF SENIOR CARE

The other major issues discussed revolved around regulatory code compliance. In no particular order, the following controversies and grey areas were identified:

1) How do senior homeowners transition unqualified and resistant residents out of their facility? In other words, as uncomfortable as it may sound, how does one evict the elderly? Senior Independent Living facilities are treated no differently than any other rental property. Therefore, it is legal in Florida to evict senior residents with proper notice. The Sheriff will post a sign, lock the doors, and place the former resident’s belongings next to the nearest right of way. With assisted living, ALF’s and skilled nursing facilities the protocol takes longer.

2) The #MeToo movement has shown a bright light on liabilities that, for the most part, had previously been overlooked. When and how to report and deal with these issues are matters that can no longer be ignored. The presenter described liabilities associated with both cover-ups and overreactions to victim’s rights policy.

3) How should senior homeowners deal with building code upgrades, which will come into effect in 2019, emanating from Hurricane Irma and the inability of first responders to maintain strong wireless communication signals during a storm? The implied threat is that first responders will be forced to leave the premises prior to complete evacuation. The new code will be enacted to ensure strong uninterrupted signals for first responders in order to help facilitate the timely evacuation of residents. There were some additional overt threats that fire marshals will not issue permits for new buildings without certain transmission upgrades

4) Finally, general practitioner groups are being formed to offer cost effective primary care to senior living and ALF residents. They claim to be able to cut costs by eliminating duplicative and over the top specialized care.

bill-henryWilliam Henry PhD is the Principal in Charge of RGA-Design, LLC a full service architectural and interior design firm that has served as the architect of record for over 1,000 projects across the State of Florida (Registration number AA0003523, AR007521). He has lectured and written widely on the above topic. His most recent publication is ‘Return of the Master Builder’ available on Amazon Kindle e Books. Henry’s contact information is whenry@rga-design.com; (813-226-2220 Ext 204) or visit the company web site at www.rga-design.com or www.buildingdoctorfl.com.

Copyright © 2018 REAL Exclusive Magazine www.getrealexclusive.com
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