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Senior Living Has Another Unsung Hero: The Tech Concierge

Senior Living April 6, 2022

By Savy Sabino

“What’s wrong with this thing?” How often have you or your staff heard these words from your senior living residents who are struggling to adopt technology? A device meant to make the lives of assisted living and independent living residents easier, can quickly become a source of complete frustration.

One only needs to view the 2017 Saturday Night Live skit about the fictious Amazon Echo Silver for Seniors to be reminded just how frustrating technology can be.

Your staff is the first line of help

When residents struggle to use technology, they turn to sons and daughters. When they aren’t available, residents turn to caregivers, volunteers and staff. These team members may not have the expertise or time to help residents resolve technology issues.

One community estimated that its staff answered about 50 technology questions a month. They were surprised to learn that the staff answered more than 300 questions.

To remain competitive, and to continue bringing life-saving and engagement-enhancing technology to residents, progressive communities have found another answer—a Tech Concierge who holds regular hours for residents and staff to solve technology problems.

During COVID, Tech Concierge team members were deemed essential staff because their ability to provide resident tech support while staff focused on their number one mission—caring for residents—was a key element of maintaining census.

The new unsung hero

Community leaders have started to recognize their Tech Concierge as unsung heroes. Tech Concierge work regular shifts, three-to-five days a week, within a community to resolve technology issues for residents and the staff. Often provided as a third-party service to the community, these professionals are technology savvy, uniquely trained to work with seniors, and completely comfortable coaching a resident to access a new program, connect a printer, hang a TV or help a staff member log a resident into a telehealth call.

The most effective service includes a backup center with 24/7/365 access to technology experts when the Tech Concierge is not available.

Save staff time and frustration

Earlier we mentioned a community that was surprised to discover that its Tech Concierge resolved more than 300 technology-related issues for its residents. That community was Graceworks Lutheran Services at Bethany Village. Reports prepared for Graceworks Lutheran Services show the community saved 2,400-man hours a month by using a Tech Concierge to answer questions.

What does a typical month of issue resolutions look like for a Tech Concierge at Bethany?

  • 41 Internet requests including Wifi resets and password assistance
  • 32 Phone requests including training, replacing cords and assisting with voicemail
  • 82 TV requests including training, checking connections, DVR, and remote control use
  • 162 Other requests including the use of streaming services, computers, DVD and even email setup

Refocus priorities on running the community

Another community, Friendship Village Kalamazoo discovered that the Sentrics Tech Concierge service, originally designed to help with new move-ins, plays a valuable role with all residents. In fact, residents were so happy with their Tech Concierge that they nominated him for a Gem Award, which is given to an employee who goes above and beyond. Director of Facility Services, Brandon Pierce, approved the award because he and the residents think of the Sentrics Tech Concierge as a Friendship Village team member.

“Our Sentrics Tech Concierge is fantastic,” explained Pierce. He is calm, patient and works extremely well with the residents and the staff. I don’t know what I would do without this service. I couldn’t dedicate a headcount to do this important work.”

Reinforce resident confidence in their technology prowess

An added benefit of a Tech Concierge is his or her ability to help residents gain confidence in their own technology knowledge. Imagine the jubilation an 84-year old assisted living resident feels when she can see her great grandchild blow out his birthday cake on a video call? Or the confidence a 70-year old independent living resident feels when he can conduct a video telehealth call with his physician?

“Our Tech Concierge has a unique way of working with residents to solve problems,” said Pierce. His calm, get-it-done attitude puts residents at ease, while taking a lot of stress off of my department.”

 

Improve family confidence and community value prop

When staff does not have the time to support resident technology needs, the responsibility can fall to adult family members.  Technology support can be a challenge under any circumstance, and especially for family members trying to squeeze in support between other commitments or remotely. Providing regular, onsite hours, residents know exactly when someone can help them, which becomes a big selling point for the community.

 

How to hire a Tech Concierge team member

With staff shortages at an all-time high, it may be hard to justify hiring a full-time technology resource unless you can leverage a reputable service. When you leave the hiring to another organization, they become responsible for assessing skills, personality and cultural fit. Plus, they manage that person’s time. That’s one less headache for you and your team.

Look for an organization that hires professionals who:

  • Take a kinder, gentler approach when answering questions because they are dedicated to and trained for seniors
  • Have knowledge across multiple technologies
  • Hold regularly scheduled hours in your community
  • Include a 24/7/365 support center with team members who speak English as their first language
  • Work with both residents and staff members
  • Pass the appropriate background checks

“We don’t hire technology experts,” said Michael Mays, Technology Concierge Manager at Sentrics. “We look for people who can pick up a new piece of equipment and figure out how to use it. Our Tech Concierge team members can work with technology and have strong skills in communication, empathy and customer service.”

Helping residents adopt technology is the only option

In 2021, we asked community leaders from across the nation if they feel there is a need (to provide) technology adoption assistance. Not surprisingly, an overwhelming 93% said yes.

As senior living communities get more sophisticated, and we ask our residents to do more with technology, we must help them become as comfortable with that technology as they are using a rotary phone.

Sentrics provides a Tech Concierge service. To find out more, click here.

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