Communication is one of the most important things when it comes to managing a facility. Its importance rises even further when we’re talking about a senior living facility. Senior citizens need your complete attention as they are even more vulnerable to injuries and diseases. This makes it necessary to have some strategies in place to handle internal communication efficiently.
Recently, a senior living facility in Charlotte Harbor, Florida, took about 8 hours to evacuate during Hurricane Irma. Several other senior living facilities were also affected and in one of them, 12 residents died, all due to lack of preparedness.
Senior living facilities often face challenging situations. These include staffing, safety, budgeting, funding, etc. You need to be prepared to face all these scenarios right from the beginning so that you can tackle them well. Here are some of the most useful internal communication strategies that you can use to connect with your staff quickly in case of emergencies.
1. Communicate With Everyone
When you’re developing a communication strategy for your facility, keep in mind that you need to communicate with everyone. This includes your staff, residents, and even their families. It is critical to do so, as these are all the parties that can directly or indirectly be involved in emergencies.
Come up with a plan that can communicate things to not only your staff and residents but even to their families. By keeping everyone informed, you’ll be able to grow your resident number and also increase the staff retention rates as they may become more satisfied with their jobs.
Communicating with everyone also means that there will be no miscommunication of information whatsoever. When rumors die off, it not only helps in keeping everyone safe but also saves your reputation.
2. Straightforward Messages
Remember, when you’re communicating with any of the parties mentioned above, you need to keep your messages simple and straightforward. If too much information is included in them, then the actual message may get lost among it.
You may also communicate with everyone when there’s no emergency. In such situations, use humor carefully. Everyone may not take it well, and some may even misunderstand what you may mean to communicate.
Moreover, you should see when your communication is the most effective. Time it well. From its impact, you can decide how much of a difference it made. Based on that, you can further optimize it.
Try to find what method of communication do the parties prefer. Adjust your method of communication accordingly. You can also take inspiration from other senior living facilities and see what’s working for them. Accordingly, you can implement the same in yours.
3. Have A Communication System In Place
To communicate efficiently with all your stakeholders in a short duration, you need to have a communication system in place. In such a situation, a mass notification system can be extremely useful. It can help you send out notifications instantly to coordinate with your staff, residents, or their families.
In case of emergencies, you can send out notifications immediately to alert everyone in the facility and their families. In addition, if the emergency notification system is multi-language and multi-channel one, you can reach even more people.
A multi-channel notification system ensures that the message reaches every person not just through text but even through emails and phone calls. Having such a system can help you avert any crisis and casualties.
4. Frequent Communication
It is necessary to keep communicating with your stakeholders frequently. Don’t leave communication only for those times when it is absolutely essential. If you keep communicating regularly, the stakeholders will form a habit of looking out for your messages. This can help them in being better prepared to keep a watch for your messages in case of any emergencies.
You must, of course, understand that sending out frivolous messages frequently is counter-productive and should be avoided at all costs. Instead, send messages which are relevant and help in improving the confidence levels in your facility.
5. Train Everyone
When you have a communication plan set up, you need to train everyone to be ready to use it. You should conduct training sessions for your staff and residents alike. The families of residents can also be trained.
These training sessions should make everyone aware of the systems you have in place to communicate with everyone in the senior living facility. At the same time, you must also teach them how to respond to different situations, such as emergencies.
You must also train your staff on how it should communicate with you for better management of the facility. Lastly, families should also be briefed about how they should respond to emergencies.
6. Follow The Four-C’s Rule
When you’re dealing with a senior living facility, you need to follow the four-C’s rule yourself to ensure that all the communication goes smoothly. The four-C’s of communication are:
Credible: Whatever you communicate must be believable. Ensure that it comes from a reliable source. The information that you pass is important. If it doesn’t come from a credible source, it probably shouldn’t be communicated.
Connection: Whoever receives your message should be able to connect with it. This connection only happens when the message is relevant to them. You must put efforts into making it that way so that your audience reacts the way you want it to.
Comprehend: The message that you send should be simple and easy to read. The receiver should be able to understand the message instantly.
Contagious: To ensure that the message spreads quickly, you need to make it contagious. This means that your message should be memorable. In case of an emergency message, it should communicate the severity of the situation well.
Managing a senior living facility is no mean deal. Constant attention and care need to be given to older people. You must be able to communicate well with your staff for that. Ensure that you communicate things with all the stakeholders to ensure there’s no miscommunication. Also, keep your messages simple and have a communication system in place to handle all notifications.
Train your residents, staff, and families for emergencies. Lastly, remember the four-Cs of effective communication.
What are the other communication strategies for senior living facilities? Let us know in the comments.