Green building initiatives have been around for more than 20 years, and now assisting living facilities are moving towards a new measure of sustainability.
Given the move towards eco-friendly initiatives, it’s no surprise that RCFE administrators are looking for ways to actively promote sustainability in their communities.
The impact of creating an eco-friendly assisted living community is twofold. First, it helps to reduce a facility’s carbon footprint. Second, it promotes both mental and physical wellness for the residents.
As an RCFE Administrator, you work hard to provide a warm, safe and caring atmosphere for your residents. In return, you and your staff experience the satisfaction of seeing the seniors you care for flourish, meet new friends, and engage in activities.
Here are a few easy to execute strategies to help make your RCFE better for the planet and better for your residents.
Improve Lives With Eco-Friendly Assisted Living
Californians have always been at the forefront of the environmental movement. As they age, they remain concerned about energy conservation, pollution, and keeping the food supply free of pesticides and chemicals.
Operating a greener RCFE can provide small but important advantages for residents, employees, and the community at large:
- Helps save the planet
- Gives residents a purpose
- Cultivates physical and emotional health
- Offers key marketing points for the facility
- Contributes to staff satisfaction
You didn’t become an RCFE Administrator overnight. Similarly, it will take time to develop a green facility. Just as you prepared carefully for the California exam to receive an assisted living administrator certificate, it takes thought and effort to get everyone involved and to create a plan for an eco-friendly RCFE.
Invite Everyone To Get Involved
Not only is including every person the right thing to do, but it helps eco-friendly efforts to succeed.
Keep the lines of communication open with both residents and staff and ask for their input and ideas. Present possibilities for the first initiative at a group meeting and let everyone vote for their choice on a private ballot.
Ideas to Get Your Assisted Living Facility Started
Start with the low-hanging fruit.
Make sure your facility is set up to be energy efficient by using LED lights and certified energy-efficient appliances and equipment, when possible.
If you have a landscaping service, ask if they can use electric instead of gas-powered equipment. Other green practices could include collecting rainwater for reuse on the property or making use of composting techniques.
Also, it never hurts to ask your residents for their suggestions.
Bring the Outdoors Inside for Greener Vibes
Making the best use of natural light in an RCFE makes good sense on many levels.
Natural light relieves eye strain, makes individuals feel happier and more energetic, and even helps people sleep better. Opening window coverings can cut down on the need for artificial lighting in the room and reduce energy costs.
Place green plants everywhere around indoor living spaces to add beautiful decorative touches and help improve indoor air quality.
Seniors can maintain their personal favorites in their own rooms or help care for plants featured in shared areas. Some people believe using green plants indoors can even improve the effectiveness of air purifiers.
Change Cleaning Solutions, Switch Laundry Products and Eliminate Lawn Chemicals
You can’t become a greener RCFE without paying attention to the cleaning solutions and other chemicals used in your facility.
While providing a clean and safe environment is essential for preventing the spread of illness, many of the products used in institutions can cause headaches, eye and lung irritation and lead to respiratory issues. Some of the worst culprits contain volatile organic compounds.
Be sure to check the labels of all products used at your facility, including dishing washing solutions and laundry detergents, for dangerous ingredients.
Just because it’s called a natural or green product doesn’t mean that it is free of risky chemicals.
Ideas to Get Residents Involved
Get Your Hands Dirty
Even individuals who aren’t big on committing to a group undertaking usually appreciate flower beds and vegetable gardens, especially in our beautiful California weather.
Since every assisted living facility is different, landscape and gardening projects are bound to be unique. Sometimes a small facility with only a few residents has the perfect outdoor space for a garden plot or individual flower beds that can be adopted by a single resident.
Launch Container Gardening for Small Spaces
Even if outdoor areas and gardening spaces are limited, you can still provide opportunities for cultivating beautiful flowers. Consider growing vegetables such as tomatoes and peppers in decorative pots and large containers.
Even better, place some containers at waist height for easy plant care. They can also provide a constant source of flavorful herbs and can be moved inside if the weather becomes inclement.
Feature Home-Grown Vegetables and Herbs in Meals
Perhaps one of the most exciting moments takes place when residents harvest tomatoes, salad greens, parsley, or other garden produce, and the vegetables or herbs show up in the next meal.
Everyone takes pride in this accomplishment and enjoys the tasty rewards of going green.
Be sure and ask your Licensing Program Analyst (LPA) for an exemption to allow your residents to consume any produce grown in the community.
Keep Learning and Growing
Incorporating an eco-friendly initiative into your RCFE is one of many ways that make for a greener environment and, ultimately, a better place for your residents to live.
Do you have new employees? Our online assisted living courses provide complete staff training as well as CEUs for the renewal of your assisted living administrator certificate.
At Assisted Living Education, we’re here to help you achieve your goals.