August Health had the privilege of interviewing Kelly Stranburg about resident information and data in senior living operations. Kelly’s expertise spans across senior living wellness, operations, and programming. She is experienced in supporting new developments from start to finish, including building design and workflows, and has been highly involved in acquisition transition phases and daily operations (sales, dining, hiring, training, programming, employee well-being, and partnerships). A featured speaker at over 100 state and national senior living and aging-related conferences, Kelly is the founder of Excellence in Wellness, LLC.
What sort of roles have you taken on in the senior living industry?
I’ve worked with aging adults for 25 years, with 15 of those specific to the senior living industry. I’ve been most successful when I’ve created roles from the ground up, after identifying an organization’s greatest needs. These roles have allowed me to best support communities in achieving owner/operator KPIs.
Resident engagement is the area of senior living operations I have supported the most, and remains near and dear to my heart. Beyond clinical care and support, how a resident spends their day has a tremendous impact and influence on their overall well-being and quality of life.
At past senior living conferences you’ve spoken on centralizing resident data and information — what makes you passionate about this topic?
When we think about implementing a platform to support daily operations in a senior living setting, it’s essential that this platform makes resident data accessible to staff.
I have shared the following story with many conference audiences: Just seven years ago I was storing rich data about my residents in an Excel spreadsheet. This spreadsheet included resident histories and interests, psychosocial insights, daily routine preferences, and on-going personal and health-related goals. No one in my community benefited from this data sitting in a spreadsheet on my computer. Because this data was not easily accessible to my fellow team members, what opportunities for effective care and services did we completely miss out on providing for residents?
My experiences have made me realize that operators need platforms that centralize resident and operational data and make it easily accessible to staff, while being simple and friendly to use. Software like this ultimately allows staff to save time (and thus costs!), and significantly reduces work-related errors.
What are the consequences when an operator doesn't have cohesive, accessible information about its residents?
When a community provides multiple levels of care to support varying acuity, there is the opportunity to understand an individual more holistically throughout their residency. The more we know about a resident, we are better-positioned to move them into a higher level of care with thoughtful support.
Information accessibility can make or break this experience. When a resident needs to move to a new level of care, do you think siloed, inaccessible data supports this transition effectively? Do you think having residents repeat their highly personal and emotional story over and over because staff cannot access critical pieces of information makes residents feel valued or well heard?
Conversely, when staff has access to cohesive resident information, they can ensure a resident is only involved in the physical move. Everything else remains consistent for the resident — relationships, preferences, specific routines — and, ideally on-going satisfaction stays consistent for the resident and their family, too.
What role does software play in terms of the resident information best practices you've described?
At this critical juncture in the senior living space, technology must be embraced. The days of paper charts, displaced critical insights from frontline care staff, and lengthy administrative tasks must be left in the past. Operators need to onboard software that effectively supports staff in how they function.
This software should take into account 1) the needs and goals of senior living operators, 2) staff’s fundamental workflows and operational pain points, and 3) ensure the right information is accessible to the right people. Quality software delivers an operational lift by making resident information centralized and easy to interpret for staff, whether they’re moving in residents, providing essential care, or tracking broader acuity trends.