In 2014, seven million incidents of seniors falling resulted in injuries that led to roughly $31 billion in annual Medicare expenses. Senior citizens fall more often and experience greater risk from falls than the general population, and this must be taken into account when maintaining and repairing senior living spaces.
Injury accidents can and do occur at senior living centers. It is only through properly documented inspections can operators of senior care facilities minimize the frequency of these unfortunate events and stave off claims of liability and negligence if challenged in court, where heedless or unlucky owners are forced to pay out millions in settlements and penalties yearly. And in today’s mobile world, inspectors need to make phones and tablets part of their inspection processes.
Paper-based inspections simply do not have the utility and power of a mobile system. Inspection forms are easy to lose, and even if they are meticulously organized don’t have time-stamped in-line photographs that can be used to disprove allegations of negligence. This means that paper-based inspections are less able to prevent accidents, less able to spot long-term patterns and problems, and less able to hold up as a defense against negligence. The best maintenance techniques pack a one-two punch by keeping accidents as rare as possible and keeping operators free from liability.
When it comes to injury accidents, liability can be hugely expensive. Aside from the obvious toll in pain and suffering for the victim and loss of reputation for the proprietor, personal injury cases can cost businesses millions in damages, even if they are settled out of court. Without strong proof of a pattern of regular, diligent inspections, these cases usually devolve into the defendant’s word against the plaintiff’s — and when the plaintiff is a senior citizen in obvious distress, juries and even judges have a hard time staying neutral.
Digital inspections keep a traceable record of inspection dates, making it easy to prove that thorough walkthroughs took place frequently, and that any problem that developed between regular inspections was not a result of negligence. Mobile technology makes frequent inspections much easier to perform;making accidents less likely to occur, is just another obvious benefit.
Mobile inspection software also leverages the ubiquity of cameras in mobile devices to add the vital feature of in-line photography. Date- and time-stamped photos of areas and assets — directly associated with specific line-items on a digital inspection form — can both help personnel identify and repair problems before they lead to accidents but serve as an evidence chain to prove management was aware of and working to eliminate any and all safety hazards. In extreme cases, it is even possible to point to a photograph showing a hazard that allegedly caused a slip-and-fall was not present on the date in question.
Business intelligence has changed just about every vertical, and senior living is no different. Mobile inspection forms automatically track data for analytics, allowing senior-living executives to notice emerging patterns and fix problems before they become widespread across all assets. This allows them to prevent a whole host of potential injuries at once rather than solving issues piecemeal or waiting until seniors get hurt.
Senior-living leaders are responsible for the residents in their facilities, which is why it is essential to use the most cutting-edge tools and best practices to care for them. Mobile inspection software is head-and-shoulders above paper-based methods. By embracing new technology, leaders can minimize risk to their residents and to their own operating costs and liabilities all at once.
Jindou Lee is CEO of HappyCo, creator of Happy Inspector, a San Francisco-based technology company that builds mobile-first software for property management companies to run their operations in real time.