Plan Ahead to Optimize Turning Over Rooms at Long-Term Care Facilities

May 1, 2019
Nurse making a patient bed

Turning rooms in between long-term care facility residents can be seen as a drain on resources and result in lost revenue due to empty beds. On the flip side, the process can be viewed as an opportunity to address maintenance issues and install smarter systems that save resources over the long term. In fact, thoughtful analysis of what rooms need now—and in the future—can add value to room turning between patients.

Taking advantage of room-turning opportunities requires careful planning and a realistic outlook on timeframes and budget. With some advanced legwork, this can reap rewards.

“Turning rooms is an opportunity to give a community a facelift,” says Christine Jones, national account manager for HD Supply Facilities Maintenance, a leader in maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) for healthcare and residential facilities. “With budget constraints and a limited window of time, maintenance teams must focus on planning and coordination.”


Healthcare facilities can make the most of the time available—whether it’s a few hours, days or weeks—by proactively making decisions on what projects can be completed in time for the next resident, Jones says. Projects can include refreshing small detail items, repairing anything that’s broken, replacing fixtures or renovating an entire suite. 

Typically, a room refresh can be completed in a day or two, while repairs take about a week and larger replacements can take one to four weeks, according to HD Supply. 

“A detailed schedule is critical to the success of a project,” Jones explains. “Solid partnerships with suppliers and service providers are also key.” 

Being honest about a facility’s need for maintenance is important when room turning happens, she adds. For instance, an older building will have increased maintenance requirements over time. Working to address those maintenance issues before something breaks down can reduce MRO costs throughout the year. 


Early sourcing of products needed for the room turn will also keep costs in line. In addition, it expedites the process of getting higher-level approvals for large MROs over $500, for instance. Having the tools needed to complete the room turn will also minimize delays to the timeline, according to Jones. 

Environmental services teams typically manage room turns at long-term care facilities and must be up to date on all rules and requirements about room maintenance on the federal, state and local levels. Most room turns require a blend of refreshes, replacements and repairs. Advanced planning and standardization across rooms and facilities can help manage the process, which can become complex with the wide variety of factors and projects needed to be completed within a single room turn.

Standardizing grab bars, light fixtures, faucets and other items found in every long-term care facility room can speed up time sourcing materials and reduce costs. “Communities can improve the turns process by standardizing parts and pieces as much as possible,” Jones notes.  

Standardization combined with advanced planning has the potential to garner big returns over time. For instance, facilities are increasingly replacing traditional incandescent light bulbs with LED lighting for energy savings. LED lighting uses at least 75% less energy and lasts 25 times longer than incandescent bulbs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. 

“LED lights not only look great, but they can also produce better light to help residents,” Jones points out.

“Communities can improve the turns process by standardizing parts and pieces as much as possible.”


Resident safety is a top consideration when turning a room. Facilities must adhere to infection control standards and provide cleaning consistency across teams and rooms, and over time. The rise of superbugs such as Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and Clostridium difficile (C.Diff) make patient room cleanliness more important than ever for quality of care. 

A 2015 study in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that very little research has been conducted on the most effective ways to disinfect and sanitize patient rooms at healthcare facilities. However, newer cleaning technologies such as devices that emit ultraviolet waves or use hydrogen peroxide vapor were found to be effective in reducing infection rates. Contamination-resistant products, including copper-coated bedrails, were also effective in preventing the spread of infection, according to the study.  

The Association for the Healthcare Environment, a professional organization associated with the American Hospital Association, emphasizes ongoing education, training and certification to keep up to date on the latest methods, tools and processes for correct and consistent disinfectant of patient rooms and suites. This helps prevent infections and illnesses to help ensure the patients have positive experiences in the facility.  

Following best practices, including safety measures and infection control, help long-term care facilities turn over rooms quickly and effectively without compromising quality. This helps facilities fill beds sooner, benefitting both the patient and the business.

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