Canada’s senior living sector is currently undergoing its biggest transformation in modern times. Factors like national demographics, changing standards and Covid-19 have created the conditions for radical change that will help this sector meet current and future demand.
Stakeholders in senior living have an opportunity to drive unprecedented progress. But with that opportunity comes a huge responsibility to get it right; using resources innovatively and wisely to position Canada as a global leader in senior living standards, and to maximize efficiency within the sector for years to come.
At Belroc, we take this responsibility seriously, so over the past two years we’ve engaged with senior living consultants, to make sure that our service offering aligns closely with their vision and needs as they move forward into a new era for residential care.
One of those consultants is Bryn Barnes, Managing Director of Hospitality Matters Inc., a hospitality services consulting and management firm focused on senior living organizations across Canada.
Bryn has 25 years of experience in the management of senior living residences and support services, working to improve operational efficiencies, enhance experiences and develop safe, healthy living environments with a strong hospitality ethos. We caught up with Bryn to talk about changes in the senior living sector, and what care homes should be doing to keep in step. Here’s what she had to say:
Bryn, thanks for talking with us today. Can you explain for us exactly what Hospitality Matters does and why?
At Hospitality Matters we focus on the hospitality services of the senior living sector. We assist clients with many aspects of their operations such as dining, housekeeping and support services, delivering revenue growth through an enhanced resident experience. I also regularly assist clients with their strategic initiatives for long term growth in the sector.
You’ve got some pretty impressive experience within this sector – can you tell us a little about your background?
I began my career in acute care, working in operations for a large support service provider and was promoted throughout operations, sales and marketing. I decided to focus my career on senior living, and as a result ran an independent retirement residence to round out my overall management experience in the sector. I then became the CEO of a mid-sized organization providing support services to senior living locations in Western Canada. We were acquired by a larger provider, and I was tasked with running all their locations across Canada. With this knowledge gained, I brought all the operations together under a new brand, focused on the resident first.
What does your typical day look like?
There’s no such thing! I really enjoy the diversity I have working with many different clients on their varied projects. Since the pandemic, work has shifted to hours spent online. I’m looking forward to more time face-to-face with the clients and residents we serve.
Senior living is in a period of turbulence and change right now. What shortcomings and challenges stand out for you?
Attracting and retaining qualified staff is an area most sectors are struggling with. Personal care touches for our seniors are key, and are very difficult to deliver without qualified, caring staff.
Funding is an area of huge debate and great need. Keeping seniors in their own homes is a worthy goal, but the social and wellbeing benefits that senior living residences can provide should not be overlooked. Both my mother and my mother-in-law live in independent retirement locations, one in Alberta and one in Ontario. The level of care and enjoyment they both have with their living arrangements is second to none, which is wonderful for them and for the peace of mind for our entire family.
What changes do you think we will see in Senior Living over the coming years?
The sector hasn’t typically been an early adopter of new technologies, but with many great innovations coming quickly, I think that will change. Equipment innovations that focus on creating an enhanced resident and staff experience in the home will be key.
Since the pandemic we have introduced our clients to innovations in technology such as air filtration, with the Rensair hospital-grade H13 HEPA/UVC mobile air purification unit, developed in Denmark.
In addition, Belroc Group is working on a new, innovative design for a purpose made PPE cabinet which will be aesthetically pleasing for the organization of all required PPE equipment. This will assist with staff efficiency, satisfaction, safety and can be customized to suit the décor of the home.
Last but not least, I believe the importance of the people within this the sector will really come to the forefront. Best practice for employee recruitment, retention and training will be vital, but in a more general sense I think we will see providers adopting a strategy of increased engagement with their residents, their families and the communities they serve.
How can your work support these changes?
We work with organizations to make sure they understand the sector and why they need to focus on enhancing the resident and staff experience. We assist them with setting up quality support services, whether that is with an outside provider or on their own. We also ensure our clients have access and information on the latest innovations and best practice for the industry.
In your opinion, how does interior design impact the quality of senior living care, as well as the business side?
If a residence isn’t up to date aesthetically and from a safety perspective it can dramatically impact the quality of care. It certainly impacts on the business side by making it harder to attract and retain quality employees, and of course, to gain new residents. This is a fast-growing sector with many new residences being built, so it can be quite competitive. Reputation is everything.
In your view, what’s the benefit for senior living residences in working with a specialist provider like Belroc?
Working with a provider who understands their industry can really transform the outcome for senior living residences. From design specifications to budgeting and installation, they are best positioned to engage with all stakeholders and develop solutions that meet a complex range of needs, for managers, staff and residents alike.
Belroc understands that any renovation can be disruptive. Their unique approach focuses on minimizing that disruption while helping the client to create buy-in and excitement about the improvements that will come. They have some excellent systems and processes to assist clients with everything from managing their budget to completing quality projects on time. Belroc also understands the need for enhanced infection control and provides industry-leading products in this area.
What do you enjoy most about working in this sector?
I would say the people! People who choose to work in the Senior Living sector tend to share similar passions and goals – especially in relation to the long-term improvements that can transform care outcomes. I enjoy working in an industry where you feel as if you can make a difference in people’s lives.
Huge thanks to Bryn for taking part in this interview – connect with her on LinkedIn for more insights! If you’ve got an upcoming care home construction or refurbishment project and would like to access Belroc’s expertise, get in touch!