SCALING UP SERVICES IN RETIREMENT COMMUNITIES THE COVAICARE WAY

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Circa 2004. We commenced our journey ofretirement communities – an unchartered territory until then. Most of us had heard about life in an old age home.

It was soon after the effects of Y2K started to take effect when there was an exodus by young and brilliant Indians in the IT sector to the West and greener pastures. A great opportunity that was not missed. But, it was the beginning of the problem of living for the parents who found themselves ageing.

For Covai Property Centre (I) P Ltd, popularly called Covai in the real estate industry, it was an idea and an opportunity that came our way to develop five acres of land on Siruvani Road in Coimbatore. The land was an agricultural field in the midst of a coconut grove,surrounded by hills and frankly speaking, unfit for real estate development. It lacked social infrastructure and was 2 kms away from Perur Temple on Siruvani Roadand, 12 kms from Coimbatore Railway Station –considered too far away those days!

Today, thanks to the popularity of Isha Yoga Ashram and Sadguru Jaggi Vasudev, Isha isa popular destination of people from all over the worldincluding our President and Prime Minister. Siruvani Road is now a 70 feet road and the area along the Noyyal River is seeingmore habitats in these15 years. Soundaryam Comfort and Retirement Homes was meant for 48 villas (75 residents above the age of 50).

We modelled it on a militarycantonment, self-contained with basic amenities and infrastructure that senior citizens we thought would need. Weprovided basic services and a medical centre with an ambulance! In the past fifteen years we have spread to multiple cities and along the way Covai has become brand CovaiCare with a simple vision of “Solve Ageing.” We provide solutions to living, care and, products that are useful to the senior citizens.

From mere living, we moved on to care components like assisted, memory and palliative and now have a PolyCare as well as provide care for the Special Needs Children with Autism, Down’s Syndrome and Cerebral Palsy (PsWD Care) after the demise of their parents. We have adopted technology and have embarked on making technology more useful for providing services and care.

We have realised that it is no longer senior living but senior care inclusive of living.

We have also realised that we can never be perfect but look for perfection. We cannot satisfy all our residents. There will be cases where we cannot meet the expectations. Our understanding of human nature is an on-going process and is never ending!

I will share how my Team CovaiCare with the support of the seniors whom we care, made this journey. But the journey cannot be stopped.We are still learning, but we have also learnt that we need to foresee problems and have solutions to the problems. Yes, we need to be pro-active and not reactive. Is it possible?

 

Questions:

 How do we:

 

  • Scale up our services?

 

  • Provide the same quality of services in multiple locations?

 

  • Ensure consistency in services delivery?

 

  • Measure our services delivery?

 

  • Train our human capital and retain them?

 

  • Keep evolving to the challenges that we face with the passage of time?

 

  • Find solutions to the problems of longevity or ageing?

 

  • Create new concepts with changing times

 

  • Meet the seniors’ expectations in a world driven by technology?

 

  • Continue to enjoy what we are doing?

 

We realised that we needed SOPs and continuous monitoring of our services standards. We have used technology to help us achieve this. The systems and processes by CovaiCare ensure prompt services delivery with consistency and quality.

BASIC SERVICES

Housekeeping
  • Cleaning of houses and common areas on daily, weekly and monthly tasks
  • Any repair and replacement with electrical, plumbing, masonry or carpentry involved
  • Periodic Maintenance of Utilities

 

Gardening
  • Landscaping and providing the green cover across the community and houses
  • Assisting in waste management with the intent of achieving (near) zero garbage and producing manure out of food waste, leaves, weeds etc.
Catering
  • Providing food and beverages with service at the dining or home-delivered (for those who have physical disabilities or are sick).
Health Management
  • Ranges from preventive health care to evacuation to the hospital in case of emergency
  • The daily schedule includes home visits to check on the health and wellbeing of the sick and single residents
  • Preventive Care through Medical Care is a SOP that monitors health of every resident by recording Basic Health Status (BHS) by our Doctors from Covai’s PolyCare, Upgrading the Nurse at the community to be Resident Health Manager (RHM) who pre-empts medical tests and organises the same, monitors medicine intake (only single prescription), ensure medicine refills from pharmacy, updates records health data of visit to doctors or hospitals, gives health status report to Chief Medical Officer of Covai’s PolyCare, administers medicines those who are frail and need assistance etc.
  • We have made Medical Centre in the Community to be pro-active instead of being reactive
 
  • Telemedicine facilities are also assisted by the RHM
 
Security Services
  • Involve in the ‘Loss Prevention’ activities at the community ensuring the safety of the residents
Errand Services
  • Any requirement of the resident from pin to plane is coordinated by the office. This could involve concierge services organising bank transactions or shopping or paying bills or arranging escorts etc
Event Management
  • All activities to maintain an active life for the resident is managed by this team. The activity could range from a simple celebration of a personal occasion to organising events or celebrations of festivals. Travel and tours are also organised by the event management team

 

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) & Documentation:

The entire bundle of services on offer by CovaiCare is very clearly defined in the SERVICES MANUAL. This manual is handed over to each owner when they occupy their house.  The manual elaborates on the various services and facilities at the community along with the use and restrictions bound with it. It also provides details on the general guidelines for harmonious community living to be followed by each occupant in the community.

The CATERING MANUAL’ offers all the checks and balances required for smooth and efficient operations by the Food & Beverage department. It provides the guidelines for standardisation of services where in each process is clearly defined with the procedure to be followed along with the registers to be maintained and the formats for reporting that go along with it. The process is also bound with scheduled inspection by the management team and surprise audits by external agencies.

The LOSS PREVENTION MANUAL enlists the tasks to ensure proper safety and security of the residents and assists in providing a smooth and hassle-free senior living at the community. It also helps to preserve and maintain the assets created for the community.

All operational processes are time bound for action and completion within the scheduled time. The quality of the deliverables is also evaluated based on the feedback from the residents and the reports by the manager.

Each staff of every department is provided a JOB CARD which lists his/her daily tasks while at work. This is written in their local language and made handy for their ready reference and reporting.

Overall there is an ‘AUDIT CHECKLIST that helps to review the adherence of process and procedures followed by the services team at the community. These are carried out by Head Office senior staff during their regular visit to the community

COVAISMART APP’ assists the residents in availing services from the comfort of their homes. The systems allow real time reporting of the status of the service requests and the feedback from the resident. This helps management in evaluating the quality of services delivered. This App is available in both IOS and Android version, exclusively for the residents of CovaiCare Retirement Community Projects

The MAINTENANCE MANUAL enlists the process involved in the maintenance of the community and the utilities like STP, Lifts, RO Plant, Borewells, RWH, Supply of water to dwellings, pre-emptive checks by the community Plumber and Electrician, periodic inspection by Chief Engineer.

 

Conclusion:

It is the belief of Team CovaiCare that these SOPs must not only be followed but the staff should be  constantly trained and kept motivated. There may be some adjustments necessary in following these SOPs but such changes can be done by the Management and recorded.

 

The challenge is in maintaining consistent quality and efficiency and, these SOPs helps Team CovaiCare achieve near perfection in services delivery and continue to strive for perfection.

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