Poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) May Negatively Influence LTC Business Outcomes
As a Long Term Care (LTC) Administrator, you face a multitude of challenges and concerns every day. From census to staffing to improving resident health outcomes, you have a lot to think about, and even more to do. The pressures of running an effective and efficient facility may make you feel like you don’t have a single extra moment to spare on anything that doesn’t move the needle for your business. For this reason, some LTC Administrators place exploring and implementing solutions to improve indoor air quality (IAQ) very low on their list of priorities.
However, IAQ plays a significant role in many of the most pressing issues facing LTC Administrators today. Let’s take a look at how IAQ influences LTC financial challenges as well as indoor air solutions that may help you improve your business outcomes.
Watch our latest IAQ webinar: Indoor Air Quality in Long Term Care: Vital for Infection Control, Operational Efficiency, and Clinical Outcomes
Presented in partnership with Madison IAQ, this webinar features expert panelists and will discuss various impacts of indoor air quality on your residents, staff, and business outcomes.
Lack of Staff Efficiency and High Turnover Rates in LTC
Turnover, absenteeism, and low worker productivity cost time and money1 that could be better spent on improving your resident care to drive up census and improve your facility’s rating.
Present staffing challenges may leave you constantly searching to fill vacated positions or shifts, training new staff, and struggling to maintain a high facility rating that draws more prospective residents to your business.
Poor indoor air quality only exacerbates these pressing LTC issues.
In the case of absenteeism, research shows that employees are more likely to miss shifts due to illness or job dissatisfaction when they are chronically exposed to poor indoor air quality at work2.
Additionally, poor IAQ contributes to diminished cognitive function, which in turn lowers productivity and performance at work3. In fact, this study shows that indoor air quality and productivity are directly correlated; as IAQ deteriorates, so does worker productivity4.
Long-term exposure to particulate matter (PM) 2.5 (a type of exceptionally harmful PM common in indoor spaces) in indoor settings has been shown to have a drastic effect on employee decision making abilities5. Along with poor ventilation, PM exposure can result in more errors at work6, which can be costly or even fatal in situations like resident medication administration.
Learn more about IAQ’s impact on staffing in Part 2 of our IAQ in Long Term Care Series: How Indoor Air Quality May Contribute to Long Term Care Staff Shortages.
The Cost of Avoidable Hospitalizations
Poor IAQ causes 3.8 million early deaths each year7 and 50% of all instances of human illness are attributed in total or in part to poor IAQ8.
Poor IAQ is an invisible health crisis for Seniors. They are particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of poor indoor air quality, yet they spend more time indoors than the average person (over 90% of each day)9. This can be a serious issue, as even short-term exposure to elevated levels of indoor air contaminants can result in hospitalization10. Additionally, chronic exposure increases the risk of otherwise avoidable hospitalizations11 for illnesses such as COPD and pneumonia12.
IAQ and resident health outcomes are deeply connected. Learn how much in part 1 of our IAQ in Long Term Care series: Indoor Air Solutions to Help Improve Clinical Outcomes in Senior Living Facilities.
Avoidable Hospitalizations May Impact Census
Avoidable hospitalizations cost billions of unnecessary dollars each year13 and can lead to health care-associated infections or other hospital-related illnesses upon return to the LTC. In fact, 4 of 10 hospitalized residents develop post-hospitalization health complications14, some of which can be infectious and spread throughout the facility to both residents and staff.
Hospitalizations in general (and the potential health risks that come after) are financially taxing. Avoidable hospitalizations, however, can also reduce trust in your facility’s quality of care. In fact, research shows they may even elect one facility over another based on a commitment to indoor air quality alone15. This lack of trust in your facility’s safety can deter prospective residents, which could impact census.
Achieve Better Air Quality for Your Long Term Care Staff
Ready for more valuable IAQ information? Watch our latest webinar: IAQ in Long Term Care: Vital for Infection Control, Operational Efficiency, and Clinical Outcomes to learn more about the impact of poor IAQ on your staff, residents, and business. You’ll walk away with vital information you can use to improve your facility’s IAQ.
IAQ Solutions to Help You Improve Business Outcomes
If you have been struggling with the previously discussed business challenges, you may benefit from exploring the following indoor air quality solutions.
Ventilation and Filtration Solutions May Help Increase Staff Productivity
IAQ improvements such as increased ventilation and higher grade air filtration (MERV-13 filters or higher) have been shown to result in a 9-20% annual reduction in sick leave16. When implemented appropriately, these improvements can result in up to 60x return on investment in the form of worker reliability and productivity17.
CMP Funding Available: Claim Up to $3,000 for IAQ Improvements
The Civil Monetary Penalties Reinvestment Program has funds available for qualifying LTCs. Receive up to $3,000 to invest in portable air purifiers and filtration devices. Funds are available on a state-by-state basis and are first-come, first-served.
Air Purification Technology May Improve Resident Health Outcomes
The number of avoidable hospitalizations could likely be lowered with better indoor air quality solutions18. For example, air purification technology such as a portable UV-C device and Needlepoint Bipolar Ionization may help reduce the amount of contaminants in the air and neutralize harmful pathogens.
These, along with other solutions such as HVAC planned maintenance and humidity control, can work together to help you create a powerful, comprehensive defense against IAQ-related threats.
A Final Note: Demonstrate Your Commitment to Indoor Air Quality
Your commitment to IAQ is a choice in service of your LTC community. When you invest in IAQ solutions, let your staff, residents, and prospective residents know about it. They will appreciate communication about your IAQ improvement efforts as well as regular updates about the air quality of your facility19.
Financial outcomes are just the beginning. Watch our "IAQ in Long Term Care" webinar to learn about IAQ's impact on residents and staff - and what you can do to help create a better indoor environment for your community.
2 Stefanovska Ceravolo, Ljubica & Mirakovski, Dejan & Polenakovik, Radmil & Ristova-Drewanz, Emilija & Sovreski, Zlatko. (2012). Indoor air quality (IAQ) as a parameter affecting workplace productivity.
4 Stefanovska Ceravolo, Ljubica & Mirakovski, Dejan & Polenakovik, Radmil & Ristova-Drewanz, Emilija & Sovreski, Zlatko. (2012). Indoor air quality (IAQ) as a parameter affecting workplace productivity.
6 Hawkins,, V. R., Marcham, C. L., Springston, J. P., Miller, J., Braybrooke, G., Maunder, C., Feng, L., & Kollmeyer, B. (2020). The Value of IAQ: A Review of the Scientific Evidence Supporting the Benefits of Investing in Better Indoor Air Quality. , (). Retrieved from https://commons.erau.edu/publication/1500
7 Vijayan, V. K., Paramesh, H., Salvi, S. S., & Dalal, A. A. (2015). Enhancing indoor air quality -The air filter advantage. Lung India : official organ of Indian Chest Society, 32(5), 473–479. https://doi.org/10.4103/0970-2113.164174
9 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 1997. Exposure factors handbook volume 3: Activity factors. EPA/600/P-95/002Fa. Washington, DC.
11 O’Malley AS, Pham HH, Schrag D, Wu B, Bach PB. Potentially avoidable hospitalizations for COPD and pneumonia: the role of physician and practice characteristics. Med Care. 2007 Jun;45(6):562-70. doi: 10.1097/MLR.0b013e3180408df8. PMID: 17515784.
12 Marion Hulin, Marzia Simoni, Giovanni Viegi, Isabella Annesi-Maesano
European Respiratory Journal Oct 2012, 40 (4) 1033-1045; DOI: 10.1183/09031936.00159011
14 Kapoor A, Field T, Handler S, et al. Adverse Events in Long-term Care Residents Transitioning From Hospital Back to Nursing Home. JAMA Intern Med. 2019;179(9):1254–1261. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.2005.
16 Hawkins,, V. R., Marcham, C. L., Springston, J. P., Miller, J., Braybrooke, G., Maunder, C., Feng, L., & Kollmeyer, B. (2020). The Value of IAQ: A Review of the Scientific Evidence Supporting the Benefits of Investing in Better Indoor Air Quality. , (). Retrieved from https://commons.erau.edu/publication/1500
17 Hawkins,, V. R., Marcham, C. L., Springston, J. P., Miller, J., Braybrooke, G., Maunder, C., Feng, L., & Kollmeyer, B. (2020). The Value of IAQ: A Review of the Scientific Evidence Supporting the Benefits of Investing in Better Indoor Air Quality. , (). Retrieved from https://commons.erau.edu/publication/1500
18 Manasa Reddy, Mohammad Heidarinejad, Brent Stephens, Israel Rubinstein,
Adequate indoor air quality in nursing homes: An unmet medical need, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 765, 2021, 144273, ISSN 0048-9697, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2020.144273