Keeping residents safe, one inspection at a time

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Jindou Lee
Jindou Lee

No matter what other issues you may be dealing with on any given day, nothing is more important than the safety and wellbeing of residents living in senior facilities. From mishaps such as slip-and-falls to major disasters such as fires, operators of these properties must always be on guard so they can prevent these issues rather than simply react to them. That's where a formal process for enforcing and tracking inspections can make all the difference.

Many executives in the senior living sector spend significant time preparing for regulatory audits and trying to manage their cash. These are critical tasks that require attention, but they pale in importance when compared to resident safety. That's because the financial impact of a single injury case can easily run into the six-figure range, and an even bigger calamity can result in a facility having to shut its doors and employees face personal legal consequences.

Unfortunately, although every nursing home has procedures on the books to limit injuries, accidents are all too common. According to Philadelphia-based law firm Ginsburg & Associates, a quarter of all nursing homes are cited for causing death or serious injury, and residents of these facilities fall at twice the rate of other elderly populations. 20% of all accidental slip-and-fall deaths among seniors over 65 years of age occur in nursing homes — about 1800 people per year — while 15% of all falls in nursing homes result in serious injury.

While there is no way to stop all of these incidents, the good news is that (as the old saying goes) an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Regular, comprehensive safety inspections provide a one-two punch, keeping residents safe in the present while providing insights to help improve safety in the future. Inspections let property professionals identify and remedy safety concerns, catch signs of wear and tear before they become emergencies, and keep staff engaged keeping properties in good condition.

Nursing home proprietors know the value of inspections, yet these vital maintenance procedures often go overlooked or underperformed because unwieldy pen-and-paper or spreadsheet inspection techniques make the task onerous and unreliable. That's where innovations like mobile technology, in-line photography, data analytics and the cloud all serve to make inspections quicker and easier to perform regularly. As an added bonus, these inspections are ideal for upkeep and future planning rather than just day-to-day documentation.

Mobile inspections can be carried out on an employee's own mobile device and can be updated and customized on the go to suit the inspection criteria to an individual property's needs. In-line photography allows staff to capture images of assets and problems, take before and after photos of repairs in progress, and provide time-stamped evidence of when a problem came to management's attention and what steps were taken to alleviate the issue. That not only keeps residents safe, but it can be a powerful tool in helping alleviate legal risk in the event of an accident or injury.

Mobile inspection software also records all inspection data to be used in analytics, providing insights into patterns across one or many properties and helping to chart a course toward ensuring future safety. This ease of use means staff can perform inspections frequently, while cloud technology makes it simple to reference any given inspection.

Every inspection is a chance to catch an issue before it causes an accident, to improve quality of life at a facility, and to reassure residents their safety is management's highest priority. Making inspections easier and more robust with mobile technology helps ensure this vital due diligence happens more frequently and provides more actionable results, protecting a nursing home's most precious resource: the people who live there.

Jindou Lee is CEO of HappyCo, a San Francisco-based software company that builds mobile and cloud applications for enterprise workforces to run their operations in real time. Its Happy Inspector product is used by thousands of companies and has captured more than 100 million items inspected. The company
was founded in 2011 and is privately held.

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