Adapting to Excel Written by Peter Ulstad, VP of Finance
The Covid-19 pandemic rapidly forced an unfamiliar and uncertain world on all of us back in March 2020. Jaybird Senior Living quickly reacted by putting measures in place to ensure the safety of the seniors who choose to call our communities “home.” Behind the scenes, our team rapidly collaborated and implemented procedures to allow for business to continue as close to normal as possible while elevating precautions at the property-level. Because we care for the population’s most vulnerable, our Clinical Care team was tasked with determining how to best support community nurses and resident assistants without being in person nearly as often to mitigate the risk of unintentionally transferring the virus. Protocols for quarantining after travel, potential exposure, and positive test results were formed. Physical building changes were made to accommodate social distancing and update conference calls were held multiple times per week to discuss new developments in what was known about the novel coronavirus and it’s spread. While living in one of our communities is the best and safest choice for many older adults, our Sales and Marketing teams faced new struggles in relaying crucial information to prospective seniors. No longer could prospective residents meander through model apartments or dine with their future neighbors during their visit. On-site Community Relations Coordinators conducted one-on-one virtual tours, taking care to keep in constant communication with inquiries. This was in addition to their new
responsibilities of delivering meals to apartments, pushing around activity and beverage carts, and scheduling window visits for loved ones. Jaybird Senior Living Portfolio Leaders, who traditionally spent nearly every day in different communities, were forced to learn how to support Community Directors from afar through the use of technology. Monthly in-service training shifted online, and everyone got familiar with seeing what each teammember had set up as their ‘home office.’ Even the finance team exited the corporate offices and moved operations into their homes in order to protect each other, slow the spread, and flatten the curve. Not only has this been an unprecedented time in terms of the public health crisis, but also a major shift in the way our organization did business. Our ‘high- touch’ organization had to get ‘high-tech’ overnight. To allow for our teammembers to do their jobs more effectively in this new environment, we put a variety of technological solutions into place. We realized early on that to best communicate with one-another, we needed to see each other. This prompted the use of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, GoTo Meeting and more. While we were aware of these platforms pre-pandemic, we are all quite familiar now! The dress shirts and slacks have largely been replaced with 5k t-shirts, band hoodies, and ball caps, but seeing each other while we work together, albeit virtually, has greatly improved our effectiveness and reduced the feeling of being disconnected from others while working remotely.
In this shift, we also created efficiencies by putting new programs in place such as an expense reporting program that enhanced the flow of our billing process, improved access to necessary data and freed up time to support our communities. With the high demand for community teammembers, we also implemented an applicant tracking system that helped us quickly post open positions, review job seeker resumes and make hires that improved our workforce. These enhancements to the way we do business make it possible for our team members to continue to support the communities, even if they cannot be there in person as often as they were in the past. Most of all, it allows the teams in the communities to mitigate administrative responsibilities and spend more time doing what they do best, which is providing a world-class place to live for the residents in our communities. While the COVID-19 pandemic added unexpected potholes and, in some cases, entire roadblocks, it forced us to think outside the box and elevate initiatives that had been on our radar. In the end, it is our hope to rebound and innovate in ways we never thought possible… for the good of our residents and the teammembers who have loyally served our communities.
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