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Is WiFi Enough? Why Senior Residents Need Dedicated Internet Service

Senior Living Strategy October 7, 2020

In the not so recent past, offering residents WiFi positioned senior living communities on the forefront of the digital transformation. 

Today is a different story. For many communities, COVID has highlighted the inadequacy of relying solely on a resident/guest WiFi network for resident access to the Internet. As Internet usage soared, communities experienced issues like: 

  • Spotty connections – some people can’t get on it all
  • Long buffering times
  • Limited connections (e.g., residents can only connect one or two devices)
  • Limitations on hours or types of services accessible
  • Printing only in public areas
  • Data security breaches

Communities that used the same Internet connection to manage the business felt the strain as well. Not to mention, it put their communities at risk for potential HIPAA violations.

How can you provide residents with dependable, high-speed access to the various-internet-based services on which they rely daily? 

The solution is a resident dedicated Internet service.  

Why WiFi is Not Enough

Your networks are already strained. Even as communities have started to lift resident restrictions, that strain hasn’t subsided. What was once a foreign concept—accessing familiar services over the Internet—has now become commonplace. 

Internet usage is only going to increase as the Senior Living demographic changes to high-consumption users.  

Tech-savvy baby boomers and new tools coming to the market will continue to drive usage up. With the current digital tools in circulation—not to mention those that are coming—it’s fair to assume that your residents will demand all of these product offerings and more. Therefore, your network infrastructure planning must account for both today and tomorrow’s IoT products. 

According to HealthTech Magazine: 

“Growth of technology adoption among seniors has prompted senior living communities to implement new technologies designed to combat isolation and to keep residents’ minds and bodies active. Wearables and other mobile devices are also helping facilitate timely, targeted care. Data analytics is playing an integral role too. A modern senior living community is a robust tech ecosystem with interconnected devices aimed at improving quality of life.”

To adopt the technological innovations, it takes a scalable IT framework with powerful internet bandwidth via resident dedicated connections. The traditional and current model simply no longer meets the needs of a modern resident that include:  

  • Communicating with family and friends – Visitors are limited  or altogether restricted for the foreseeable future. To combat loneliness, residents and their communities are turning to connected technologies to communicate with loved ones via video chat, messaging, and photosharing. 
  • Engaging mind, body, and spirit – COVID has forced many residents to retreat into their apartments. Even as restrictions lift, there are residents who either choose not to wander out of, or can’t leave their living spaces. Yet they still want to access interactive solutions that engage their minds, bodies, and spirits. These include:

    • Faith services 
    • Mood-altering music programs 
    • Body strengthening and fitness exercises
    • Mental health content 

All of these solutions can help reduce anxiety and boost resident fortitude. 

  • Connecting with physicians and mental health providers – With many restrictions extended on in-person physician visits, telehealth consults are on the rise. This technology empowers seniors to instantly connect with care providers and other ancillary healthcare services over video chat—all from the convenience and comfort of their apartments or living spaces..  
  • Online access to banking, food delivery, and shopping – Concepts that baby boomers and younger generations have fully embraced are now taking hold in senior living communities. Residents have had to embrace more online services, trusting that their personal data is secure. If using a community WiFi, security may be compromised.

On their own, each of these technology services can strain your bandwidth, especially when you account for dozens, or even hundreds, of residents using them simultaneously. Altogether, they pose a significant risk of stressing your WiFi, if not completely overwhelming it.  

Additional Bandwidth Is not Just a Resident Perk, It’s a Prerequisite 

As staff continues to manage the various risks associated with COVID and the flu, fast, private internet access will become a basic requirement for operational efficiency. There are two options senior living communities can consider:

  1. Stronger WiFi connectivity across the entire community
  2. Wired Internet connections to each resident’s room

Providing the first option is no simple feat, and it might not work long-term. The speed and reliability of WiFi is dependent on the number of users accessing the service at the same time as well as the amount of bandwidth they are using. As more users and devices get added to the network (even an upgraded one), there will be an inevitable throttle on connections. 

Option two is the simpler, more effective path. By adding a dedicated connection to each resident’s room, you can ensure that every person has the access and high-speed connectivity they need to go about their daily life. 

Signs Your WiFi Capability is Lacking

So, how do you know when WiFi  isn’t meeting your community’s needs? Ask if your residents are experiencing any of the following issues: 

  • Slow speeds when conducting a speed test?
  • Varying coverage availability?
  • Inability to run applications that require higher speeds (e.g. Netflix)?
  • Slow open rates on internet pages (i.e., does it take more than one second)?
  • Buffering?

If your WiFi has these limitations and doesn’t provide adequate bandwidth, it may be time to consider a new fix.  

Making it Affordable with Sentrics

Increasing internet bandwidth sounds expensive, right? 

It doesn’t have to be. 

Many senior living communities have saved money by bundling their TV, internet, and phone services into one product. The result? Upgraded  services, at better speeds, at a fraction of the cost of each one individually. 

When combined with 24 / 7 / 365 managed services, you don’t have to worry about taking time away from resident care to provision services, troubleshoot technology issues or worry about data security. It’s all done for you so you can focus on the business of running your business. 

So how do you ensure that your community has the bandwidth it needs?  

Sentrics is the solution that makes entertainment and communication easier and more affordable. Our Entertain360 platform provides a customizable infotainment solution that includes TV, Internet, and voice services. 

Improve your bandwidth with Sentrics.

Sources: 

  1. BBC. Technology in deep time: How it evolves alongside us. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190207-technology-in-deep-time-how-it-evolves-alongside-us
  2. HealthTech Magazine. Why Network Infrastructure Is Key To Keeping Seniors Connected.  https://healthtechmagazine.net/article/2019/10/why-network-infrastructure-key-keeping-seniors-connected

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