Technology can make a huge difference in the senior housing sector but it comes second to people, delegates heard at Real Asset Media´s Senior Housing and Healthcare Investment Briefing, which took place online this week on the REALX.Global platform.
¨Ours and will remain a people-centred business,” said Thibault Sartini, CEO of the cluster new countries, Orpea Group. ¨Technology is useful but it cannot replace people. It is important to find the right mix, but keep in mind that ultimately you need people to take care of people.”
Designing and developing the right buildings with great facilities is important, but training is crucial for the delivery of quality care.
¨It is easy to invest in the building, but it´s what happens inside the building that matters,” he said. ¨That is down to the people, who are the main resource we have¨.
The social impact aspect of senior housing includes looking after your staff as well as your clients, Sartini said: ¨We take good care of our employees so that they´ll take good care of our residents.”
The lack of people to work in care homes and senior accommodation is an issue across Europe, where there is little or no attention paid to healthcare and social care at university, apprenticeship or secondary school level. Lack of awareness of the problem leads to the shortages that the sector is experiencing.
Well trained people harder to find
¨We have an advanced robotic technology for rehabilitation in our centre in Poland but the problem is people,¨ said Krystof Jacunski, CEO, president of the board, founder, Origin Polska. ¨Without well-trained people you can do nothing with technology, and well trained people are getting harder and harder to find.¨
Origin has opened its own training Academy and Orpea Group is looking into doing the same to guarantee a supply of well-trained staff in the 25 countries they have a presence in around the world. The lack of people to work in care homes and senior accommodation is a problem across Europe.
¨Finding the right people is difficult and in Switzerland four languages are spoken, which makes it even more complicated,” said Laura de Wit, CEO, president of the board, founder, Miller White Group. ¨We try to attract people from around the world but there are issues with work permits.”
One of the changes brought about by the pandemic is that senior citizens have discovered technology as a means of keeping in touch with children and grandchildren during lockdowns.
¨Interestingly the number one demand in senior living now is a good WIFI connection, which is what the young want in student housing¨, said de Wit. ¨The young and the old are the same: they all rely on technology.”