We sat down with TrustPlace customer Patrick Papia, Vice President of Operations at senior living company Prosper Life Care, to discuss his experiences implementing TrustPlace, and the value of using digital tools to improve the quality and productivity of their operations.
A relative newcomer to the senior living industry, Patrick brings from his experience principles like lean supply chain and six sigma to the service operations at Prosper Life Care. Patrick explains his process of driving continuous improvement across different levels of the organization to serve the residents in his community – and some surprising new use cases for the TrustPlace software.
My brother Russ Papia, Scot Sandel, and I acquired our first two communities in January 2021 in Fall River and West Springfield, Massachusetts. Our primary focus for getting into this industry was how we could have a positive impact on other people’s lives while being able to stay really close to our core values.
Before that, I worked at New Era Cap, and I have a supply chain and operations background. So for me, it was a matter of getting involved and just trying to see where I might be able to implement different processes and try to “lean” things out as we did due diligence for other deals coming in.
Approach to Operations and Process
The easiest way to get your hands around something is by studying processes going on inside the organization. For example, in a previous life, when I worked at Ingram Micro and started a new project, the first thing I did was ask, “what is the current process? How do we do it now?” And we didn’t have that at Prosper when we started.
We’ll use the New Resident Move-In process, which is one of the things we’re doing in TrustPlace right now. For example, when we talk about what’s the process for moving in as a new resident? Well, we have this spreadsheet that we go by, but it can vary. So we start to ask questions, poke holes, and then conclude that we can’t do it this way.
If we wanted to own and operate only two communities, we would be fine keeping a static spreadsheet that made sense to the people performing it; when you think about owning and operating 20, 30, 40, 50 communities, you can’t have everyone doing it their own way. I come from a supply chain background, and standardization is important to me. Eliminating waste is important to me.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much waste related to healthcare because most of what they’re doing is things required by some governing body. I can’t eliminate specific things we may do once a month because the EOEA or the CDC requires it. For me, the real name of the game was trying to figure out how I could standardize operations and implement processes. The first thing that you have to do is have a place to do it. And that place for us was TrustPlace.
Implementing Workflows in TrustPlace - Starting Up
When we started with TrustPlace, we talked to our Directors to understand the current processes on paper. What are you collecting? And where does all this stuff live? A lot of it stems from EOEA regulations to make sure that we follow specific guidelines. Then from there, we scan the list, and we say, “Okay, well, what is the easiest? What is the lowest hanging fruit?” And we started with those three: the Safety Committee Meeting, the QIQA Program, and the Emergency Call Review.
Then our second layer to it was what’s the most broken right now. And for us, that was the New Resident Move-In process. We didn’t like how it was handled, there was so much back and forth, and it involved multiple departments. If we could make the lives of our staff members easier by putting it in TrustPlace, then TrustPlace would return its investment right there.
There are two kinds of processes that we put in TrustPlace. One of them is things that happen during a typical week, and others are more complex. The new resident move-in was the first one with multiple different layers, multiple different departments, communicating back and forth, lots of varying documentation that needed exchanges.
When we start to implement a process, we first create a value stream map. From beginning to end, I’m figuring out what the process looks like now. If at that point I still don’t have any glaring questions or I didn’t poke any holes in the process, then I go ahead, and I transfer that into TrustPlace.
Simulating Workflows for Process Improvement
After I put it into TrustPlace and we start to navigate the process, we find holes, waste, or inefficiencies. For example, when we rolled out our new resident move-in, we first did a test move-in. We put all the department directors in charge of the resident move-ins and did it in TrustPlace. The very first issue we came across was documentation exchange.
Monica collects the tuberculosis form to ensure that all of their shots and wellness are up and current, then it is provided to Lisa, our Marketing Director. In the past, we just asked each other for it as the weeks went on. Now because of TrustPlace, we don’t have to waste time asking questions. If Lisa needs to see if the tuberculosis form was collected, she can go into TrustPlace and know if it’s completed and attached. Then if it is completed and attached, she can pull it right out in the first place, as opposed to going and hunting down Monica and trying to get our hands on that form. In terms of me learning about processes, if I weren’t implementing that into TrustPlace, I would’ve never known that those types of things occur.
And then from there, you can drill down and be like, “okay, well, what’s taken place, why does it take so long? Why does it take so long for you to get the emergency contact or the doctor form?” And then maybe we find out that we’re missing a step, or perhaps we’re doing something we don’t need to, or perhaps we find out that we can reach out to somebody who can get it done quicker. I love being able to see the progress of a workflow.
Improving Workforce Productivity - Safety Committee
One process that we’re running now from start to finish is our Safety Committee Meeting, which happens once a quarter. So reviews are completed by our wellness director and then signed off by our executive director as a check and balance that they’re done. Before putting this in TrustPlace, it was fickle and sometimes not very efficient communication between the Wellness Director and Executive Director. There were certainly things lost in the shuffle.
So both parties are now responsible for the completion of this task. Let’s say our Wellness Director completed four out of the seven things required for the review. Our Executive Director then knows not to chase her now. There’s just a little bit less communication that needs to occur. It’s good for our executive director to know when something is or isn’t completed to give their approval. That would be a case where TrustPlace really works for us. And then in three months from now, when the EOEA comes knocking and says, “Hey, where’s the last three months of reviews” – they’re all right in TrustPlace.
Moving Forward - New Properties and Use Cases
We’re already in the stages of talking about how we can use TrustPlace for other things. We do things monthly financially that, when we have a larger team, would allow leadership to pass something off but still keep the finger on the pulse in TrustPlace, making sure that things are getting done on time.
Then, of course, when you talk about expansion, you talk about new deals doing due diligence on new properties. Those are all things that would fall into TrustPlace as well. It’s essentially the same template every time, like how we look at an offering memorandum, and we do our due diligence on a deal is the same for every deal, essentially. When you talk about standardization, it fits into TrustPlace perfectly.
On The Value of TrustPlace
The name of the game for our staff in our communities is to interface with residents. It’s not to operate a business management tool. My job is to make better business decisions. When we looked at TrustPlace, we asked, “what type of tool can we provide our staff whose number one job is the residents?” I think that TrustPlace is easy to navigate and is digestible to anybody who uses it – that’s what we see so far.
It’s been a lot of fun to work on this as someone who is kind of a geek for process. It’s allowed me to get down in the weeds and get granular with processes before putting them into TrustPlace.
This tool is only to make my life easier and the life of my staff members easier. It’s a tool you can play around in, which I like because it allows me to poke holes in it. I love being able to go in and see where progress is or isn’t done. And that’s not an effort to micromanage. It’s more to understand the pace at which things happen.
On The TrustPlace Customer Experience
The big thing for the implementation for us was to reach out at any time to TrustPlace. Until this day, we still have weekly calls. It’s so important to us to know that we have that type of support because we know that there will be a ton of questions that come up.
Whenever I get a question from a staff member about something in TrustPlace, it’s just as new to me as it is to them. I’m turning right around and throwing it to TrustPlace, and they typically respond to me within the hour. That, to me, was probably the most important thing in terms of enrolling on TrustPlace.
And then, while doing that, knowing that I have TrustPlace as a team behind my back gives me the confidence to know that if something does come up or if I have questions on anything that you guys are there to answer – that’s hugely important. I couldn’t be happier with our decision to move forward with TrustPlace. It’s been an absolute pleasure. I’ve never felt so much confidence in a third-party provider as I do with TrustPlace.