By Steve Moran

We are delighted to have RCare join us as our newest partner. I feel like I am kind of a kindred spirit with Myron Kowal, their CEO/Founder — we both dress to be noticed when at conferences . . . really any time we’re out in public. 

He has this one crazy narrow, but huge passion/obsession when it comes to senior living. Here it is: 


As an emergency call provider to assisted living communities, RCare processes on average more than 100,000 calls a day. (We will be sharing more of those stats in the coming months.) They see average call response times, system wide, of 10-12 minutes most days, and it tends to be worse on the weekends. 

10-12 minutes is likely okay, maybe even pretty good for independent living, but what about assisted living, memory care, and skilled nursing homes? What if they are calling for help from the bathroom? 

The Right Priorities . . . 

Our sector spends countless dollars and energy trying to figure out what residents want, need or desire. So . . .what do we come up with? Bistros, putting greens, insides that look like outside, fake clouds, circadian lighting, the list goes on and on. And it’s all good . . . as far as it goes. 

Except . . . 

When your residents move-in they are told . . . “press this button when you need help”. They weren’t told it would take 8-15 minutes for someone to respond. 

So now you are in bed and you need to go to the washroom, and you’re not supposed to do this by yourself. 

Time drags on. 

You are mortified by the thought of messing the bed. 

You push the button again, nothing happens. No one comes. 

You finally decide to venture to the restroom on your own . . . it is either that or make a mess in the bed. 

You unsteadily swing your feet off the bed and try to stand.You really need to get to the toilet.

          You begin to stand, gravity kicks in. and you find yourself off than before. “But they promised someone would come.” 

Reasonable Call Times

I asked Myron what he felt were reasonable maximum call response times. Here is what he believes is both reasonable and possible:

    • 12-15 minutes for independent living
    • 6-7 minutes for assisted living
    • Under 5 for memory care and skilled nursing

Making It Better 

If you look at those response times and you’re always better than that, congratulations, you are the exception that proves it can be done. If you would like to get better, the RCare team has some suggestions: 

    1. Have accountability. For each resident, during all times of the day and night there needs to be a single specific staff person responsible for answering calls from a reasonably sized group of residents. When everyone is responsible, no one is responsible.
    2. Have a policy that calls get answered the first time they come in. This means making answering calls is a top priority.
    3. Have a reasonable call escalation plan. Too often the escalation happens too fast and goes to too many people. This causes alarm fatigue and makes things worse, not better.
    4. Measure your response time and talk about what you are seeing with your team. Make it a priority in a nonpunitive way.

Do you think Myron is right? 

What has worked for you to reduce response times? 

Next month we will have a downloadable information sheet that will help you figure this out. When done well, it becomes a major marketing difference. 

For more information about RCare, visit their website.