Indoor air quality has always mattered in SNFs, but never has it mattered more — nor been more deeply considered by agency leaders — than during the COVID-19 pandemic. The ability for a SNF to manage indoor air quality, and to do so with an automated system, is crucial in today’s new normal of skilled nursing.
As we turn the page to 2021, senior living facilities are recognizing the power and impact of controlling indoor air quality, or IAQ. Achieving these ends with a climate intelligence system can help SNFs proactively manage IAQ, with benefits for both the wellbeing of residents and the SNF’s bottom line.
The technology from Setpoint delivers those benefits, binding a building’s entire HVAC system into a single technology platform, so that the user can control and monitor all indicators of indoor climate and air quality at once.
Among those reaping the benefits are hotels, universities, office buildings and, of course, a variety of facilities for senior residents and patients, including more than 6,000 SNF rooms nationwide, from Arizona to Florida to Ohio to New Jersey, and more. One health care provider saw a net annual savings of $22,000 with Setpoint’s climate intelligence system, along with the improved health of residents.
Here is a look at six benefits that a climate intelligence system brings to a SNF’s indoor air quality.
Improved resident health
While there are six benefits to improving indoor air quality in a SNF, the top one really does stand alone from the rest: improved resident health and wellbeing. This is vital during the COVID-19 pandemic, where the virus spreads much easier indoors than outdoors, and where social isolation and lockdowns puts a greater burden on SNFs and other senior communities and facilities to monitor and manage their indoor environments.
The Setpoint system brings fresh air in from the outside, begins its ventilation process and then empowers users to monitor indoor air quality in every room, 24 hours a day, across each one of a building’s various heating and cooling units.
And while there is not yet a way for any climate intelligence system to specifically identify COVID in the air, there are certain levels of indoor air quality that signify a danger to resident wellbeing, such as a high levels of bacteria, viral contaminants or CO2. When the system identifies those, it triggers an automated alert to the maintenance staff.
“That’s how SNFs know, hey, we need to take immediate action by automating an otherwise manual process,” says Ray Kwiatek, Setpoint vice president of sales.
While monitoring indoor air quality is first and foremost about resident health, there are cost saving benefits as well, culled in part from the connection between climate automation and a SNF’s heating and cooling mechanisms.
“We reduce drastically the amount of energy consumption during peak hours, as it costs more to use electricity during those hours,” Kwiatek says.
One organization that saw this drastic cut in energy consumption is Monarch Healthcare Management, a chain of 36 SNFs. With its headquarters in Mankato, Minnesota, the team at Monarch is accustomed to the energy challenges brought by those notorious cold winters, and the discomfort that tenants can face if units are not properly heated.
The Setpoint system looped together each building’s varied collection of heating and cooling unit models and brands to create a newly automated system based on AI learning.
Ease of use
Monarch’s experience is indicative of the ease with which the Setpoint system can take flight in a building. The Setpoint team can override a community’s management system and control everything remotely, thus limiting the number of installers and technicians entering the facility during a time when SNFs need to keep outsiders to an absolute minimum.
In a simple plug-and-play process that takes just under 17 minutes per room and requires no CapEx investment, the system is installed, with SNF staff members quickly able to take the reins via the platform, whether on a desktop, mobile device or iPad.
Automation optimizes staff work
The automated system brings additional workflow benefits to SNF staff, too. The system includes a predictive maintenance feature and offers automatic alerts when maintenance is required, staff don’t have to handle fixes in person, nor do they have to guess at which units might be a problem.
“Climate intelligence system” means just what it says: an automated, intelligent system that can learn climate patterns and adjust to counter them. This can bring up to a 45% energy savings without compromising climate comfort.
Proof of implementation for residents, staff, families and visitors
As part of its sensor system, Setpoint includes an LED light on an IAQ sensor which is green when all is well. This quick, visual indicator shows anyone in the building that indoor air quality is just that: quality. Part of the pandemic’s destructiveness comes from the impact of its hidden nature, which erodes public trust in group spaces, such as those where the feeling of community in a SNF is strongest.
The green LED light, along with a platform that provides news and updates, helps eliminate that insidious aspect of COVID-19, putting everyone who sets foot in a SNF a bit closer to feeling at ease in this new normal.
Return on investment
In the end, the ROI on the Setpoint system is monumental. For Monarch, there was zero upfront cost, followed by these savings:
— Annual Electricity Savings: $15,700
— Annual Gas Savings: $15,000
— Total Annual Savings: $30,700
With a net annual Climate-as-a-Service cost of $8,700, the net annual savings was $22,000.
Those hard dollar figures don’t take into account the savings of improved health outcomes for patients. Nor of the improved staff experience and workflow efficiencies. Nor the financial rewards from a given state’s energy incentive program, which Setpoint tailors toward.
All of that adds up to one of the greatest benefits of all: peace of mind for residents and families.
“Never underestimate the difference you can make in the lives of others,” Kwiatek says. “That’s what we’re trying to do here at Setpoint: We’re making buildings smarter and safer, one room at a time.”
This article is sponsored by Setpoint. To learn more about how Setpoint can help your SNF reduce operational costs and keep residents healthy, visit setpoint.ai.