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Using leading and lagging indicators to optimize resident satisfaction and operational efficiency

Senior living community leaders have a lot on their plates; they’re responsible for promoting the well-being of their staff, residents, and families, while also making sure operations run efficiently and business goals are met. With all these competing priorities, it’s easy for senior living operators to get stuck in a cycle of reactive decision-making.

We’ve previously discussed the importance of proactive data in senior living communities, outlining effective strategies for collecting and monitoring performance metrics. Here, we’re diving deeper into how senior living community operators can effectively combine both lagging and leading indicators to create a holistic view of their community’s performance and ultimately highlight opportunities for optimizing staff, resident, and family experiences.

Lagging vs. leading indicators

The majority of senior living community performance metrics can fall into one of two categories: lagging and leading indicators.

Lagging indicators are metrics that provide insights into past performance. In senior living, lagging indicators include metrics such as occupancy rates, length of stay, and staff retention.

Leading indicators, on the other hand, are metrics that provide insights into future performance. In senior living, leading indicators include metrics such as resident well-being, resident engagement, and staff efficiency.

The potential of data for senior living operators lies not only in its ability to provide a comprehensive and holistic view of operations, resident well-being, and staff efficiency. The potential lies in focusing on specific trends through a more acute, micro-level perspective. The analysis of smaller trends across operations, resident well-being, and staff efficiency can help pinpoint areas that require immediate attention. And it’s this ability to surface both macro- and micro-level insights that better position operators to make proactive decisions.

Despite the importance of taking a holistic view of community performance metrics, we find that many senior living communities prioritize lagging indicators over leading indicators. The below chart, taken from our 2024 Senior Living and Technology Report, shows that there is room for improvement to create parity between the two types of metrics.

lagging vs leading indicatorsFigure: What data does your organization collect and leverage to improve business performance?

While studying lagging indicators is essential for assessing the overall performance of a senior living community, focusing on retrospective data alone can lead to a cycle of reactive decision-making, where operators are constantly trying to catch up with problems rather than proactively address them.

Measuring only leading indicators, on the other hand, puts communities at risk of jumping to potential solutions without basing them in historic performance.

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Successfully integrating leading and lagging indicators

The ideal data collection and analysis strategy for senior living communities involves a combination of both lagging and leading indicators.

Below we examine how incorporating proactive data points can help communities make incremental progress toward a business goal like improving length of stay.

When senior living operators set a goal to optimize a lagging indicator such as length of stay, a first step is to benchmark their current average length of stay. It’s also helpful to set a target metric to work towards, as well as identify the deadline to achieve the goal.

What comes next? Proactive data.

By identifying the leading indicators that can be measured on an incremental basis, senior living operators are able to track the right data toward their end goal. For example, when residents actively participate in programs and their families are kept in the loop, residents are more likely to stay in their community longer. So, operators who track resident engagement and family satisfaction—core leading indicators—are able to monitor progress toward an overall goal of improving length of stay.

Through the incorporation of leading indicators into their data strategy, senior living operators can also proactively identify warning signs and opportunities for taking action before it’s too late. For instance, a drop in activity attendance over the course of a week can be quickly noted and then resolved by proposing a new series of engagement programs to re-engage residents. What can sometimes appear to be small changes can have a strong ripple effect on goals built around lagging indicators.

In this way, proactive data can empower senior living community operators to get ahead of their goals and identify vulnerable points or opportunities for improvement within their communities.

Drive a holistic data strategy with a comprehensive solution

Collecting and reporting on the data that’s necessary for a holistic strategy is often a task that, between juggling community and business responsibilities, takes up time that senior living operators don’t have. Fortunately, a comprehensive operational and engagement platform can streamline the data collection and analysis process to optimize resident, staff, and family experiences.

For instance, understanding resident engagement doesn’t have to involve a time-consuming (and potentially inaccurate) process of going from resident to resident and asking how satisfied they feel. Senior living operations solutions like LifeLoop make it easy for community staff and residents to track and analyze activity attendance and trends in resident or family communication, allowing community leaders to benchmark and monitor key metrics that shed light on community and operational health.

Insights HeaderV2_767x850Moreover, data solutions like LifeLoop Insights enable senior living executives to track metrics across a portfolio of communities, giving them a unified view of community performance and clearly identifying strategic opportunities for growth.

By optimizing the data management process to incorporate both lagging and leading indicators, senior living community leaders can monitor the holistic well-being of their community and ultimately make changes that provide a better experience for staff, residents, and families.

Download our 2024 Report: The state of senior living and technology to learn how senior living operators are addressing the growing importance of collecting and leveraging the right data to drive informed business decisions. 

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