Automation and Senior Living: A Partnership to Improve Resident Care, Staff Efficiency and Energy Savings

Automation and Senior Living: A Partnership to Improve Resident Care, Staff Efficiency and Energy Savings

 

Senior living communities are discovering how best to tap into technology to improve resident care while realizing a measurable return on investment.

The benefits of automation can range from increased observations to achieving more efficient energy systems. Automating daily resident check-ins is one example of saving over 1,400 staff hours annually – just by eliminating knocking on doors or requiring residents to trigger a daily response.

Communities who take advantage of data-driven automation data with today’s technology can achieve significant cost savings while addressing the challenges of the industry. 

Case Study in Savings #1: Daily Resident Check-Ins

With today’s staffing challenges, senior living operators are faced with how to continue offering high-quality service with an often-overextended staff. Retrofitting for automation could relieve demands on your care team and your hiring budget. 

For example, check-ins are essential for communities to track a resident’s well-being, but the allocation of staff hours to manually conduct this process offers a great opportunity for time and cost savings. 

Instead of staff visiting each apartment, imagine gaining the needed information around-the-clock, with an automated system.

Without requiring personal check-ins from your team or responses from the residents, a community with 150 apartments could realize: 

With an automated check-in system, you no longer must rely on staff time, which is already in short supply – or on the residents to push a button or call in, which often results in low compliance, according to Ashutosh Saxena, CEO of Caspar.AI. Providing technology that increases efficiency while improving resident care, Caspar’s non-intrusive monitoring system uses passive sensors, not cameras, to detect who might need attention and provides staff with actionable data within minutes. 

Senior living resident check-ins were requiring three to four hours daily on average, according to Michael Chong, Chief Information Officer with Arcadia Family of Companies, who are currently putting this technology to use. “Now that we’re leveraging Caspar’s capabilities, we’re not only saving money but can more effectively plan for staffing needs.”

Case Study in Savings #2: Reduced Utility Costs

Energy-efficient practices are standard in today’s design and build phases of development, but there are still possibilities for existing communities to capture significant savings. In fact, two key line items in your operating budget – staffing and utilities – provide great opportunities for potential savings.

Utilities are the third highest operating expense for senior living communities, according to the joint efforts of Argentum and Energy Star’s report: Efficiency Through Energy Star – a toolkit to help senior living communities optimize energy usage and costs. 

Heating and cooling are often the largest expenditures, but everyone pays when the neighbor sets the thermostat at 90 degrees or leaves the lights on when the apartment will be empty for the afternoon.

Energy savings begin by preventing mismanagement. Consider the number of apartments in your community that are left vacant during mealtime or activities – with lights left on and the heating or cooling system still running.

It’s estimated that residents are home 19.7 hours and away 4.3 hours every day. Using sensors to detect when a resident is not in the apartment, thermostats, and lights can be automatically adjusted, resulting in a simple but measurable return on investment. 

Caspar.AI’s Auto Away program is a win-win for both operators and residents when partnered with a smart thermostat. After detecting that the apartment is vacant, that information is conveyed to the thermostat which can then be set back. The resident’s comfort isn’t affected, and the operator can save on utilities.

Consider the savings data from this process:

Energy Efficiency and Cost Savings at Arcadia Senior Living

Hawaii has one of the highest energy costs in the U.S., said Chong, making energy efficiency a priority. Savings from adjusting the air-conditioning when a resident isn’t in the apartment are realized by leveraging activity detection and smart thermostats at Arcadia. 

Using last year’s rate of 28 cents per kilowatt hour, energy savings were calculated at $52,618 to $116,928 for 250 apartments. At the current rate of 40 cents per kilowatt hour, Chong notes these savings jump to $140,000 to $313,000 annually. 

Partnering with Caspar.AI and Energex, provider of the smart thermostat system, when an apartment is vacant the air-conditioning is adjusted within a predetermined range so it can quickly recover when the resident returns, according to Rami Belson, CEO of the company. But the savings don’t stop there. The process can also increase the life cycle of an HVAC system by reducing run time by three to four hours, resulting in savings of $200 to $300 per year per unit. 

Installing a more energy-efficient and programmed system makes the savings achievable. “It would be impossible for an operator to go to each unit and change the thermostat, but it’s easy with automation,” Belson said.

Advantages of Optimizing Your Senior Living Energy Efficiency

The opportunities to capture savings from more efficient staffing and energy use still leave one question to be answered. How do you approach these challenges while respecting the privacy of your residents? The key is finding a balance so the residents benefit from the additional oversight but don’t feel as if they’re being watched or recorded, said Caspar.AI’s Clark Lyons, regional director of sales.

Privacy is very important in residential living, Saxena said. Using motion sensors and radar – and no cameras – provide privacy while alerting the staff if help might be needed. Operators benefit from staffing efficiencies and the energy savings from managing thermostats. 

Inefficient energy practices fail to return a benefit to the residents, staff or operators. But money saved through efficiencies can be reinvested in additional energy improvements or staff and services. 

With the challenges faced by today’s senior living communities, we need to find ways to do more with less, said Belson. Synchronizing technological systems can do that.

Saxena agrees. Data is powerful and the senior living industry can gain from its partnership. Together, they can play an influential role in providing better care and resource management, he said.