When is it Time to Refresh Senior Living Technology?
The year 2020 changed the technology landscape of senior living communities. Not only are assisted living facilities and senior communities grappling with new state and federal health requirements, but resident requirements and family expectations have changed as well.
The technology your team loved just a few years ago might not meet current needs. If you are reimagining your current environment, it’s a good time to take a closer look at your technology. What trends do you want to leverage? When do you want to leverage them? Will your current technology support those needs, or do you need to evaluate new systems? Whether you are updating an older community, retrofitting a newly acquired community or planning for new construction, it’s a good time to start evaluating the experience and results your current technology is delivering.
To help you evaluate your environment, we’ve assembled a series of questions about the major technologies in your community.
Let’s Start With Your eCall System
Does your system include the capabilities you need to keep pace with today’s infectious diseases, stricter reporting requirements, and the latest life safety technology? If your eCall system doesn’t include newer technology, like passive monitoring and fall detection, a technology upgrade may work for you.
Could you leverage RTLS technology to provide automated contact tracing for residents, staff and visitors or to identify when a resident is separated from a needed medical device? Do you want to leverage geofencing to notify a staff member when a resident is loitering near a door? This technology exists today and likely requires a system replacement.
Access control systems have many new capabilities that keep residents safer. How old is your wander solution? Is your staff using it? Access control can now include three main components: Wander detection, access control and silent monitoring. Consider replacing your technology to take advantage of this new functionality.
If you have outdated peripherals, the system is hardwired and building upgrades will include new wiring that will support more flexible wireless systems, consider replacing your eCall solution. Also, consider replacing the system if you want to give residents more sophisticated pendants that support point of sale.
Most communities use a sophisticated EMR to guide resident care. It stores critical information to help caregivers and staff provide the best care possible for your residents. Is it a standalone and siloed solution or does it connect seamlessly to your eCall solution? What happens if your resident has a telehealth visit? Is that information shared back to the EMR? Or is it captured in a separate system? Do approved family members have access to that information?
Your eCall system should give your team a 360-degree view of your residents. If it doesn’t, how will you improve resident care?
Residents Expect More Entertainment Options
Resident expectations about entertainment are changing rapidly. Basic cable with limited programming, Wifi-based Internet access, and third-party DVR functions often leave residents frustrated. Better options are within reach. But what does better look like?
For TV programming, can you customize your channels based on the level of care? Can you change them frequently based on resident viewing habits, resident interests and popular sporting events? Do you offer the standard scrolling guide your cable company provides that is hard to stop, doesn’t go in the reverse direction, and only provides today’s programming options?
Does the DVR require a separate set-top box, a separate remote and technical expertise to record and view programming?
If you said yes to any of these questions, consider replacing your TV services with a partner that has created entertainment packages designed just for senior living community residents.
But don’t stop at just TV. Entertainment has expanded to include Internet and voice services. Have visitation restrictions pushed your residents toward video conferencing, streaming services and more online activity? Can your Wifi handle the traffic or are your residents frustrated with slow download speeds, constant buffering or services that simply aren’t available? You might need a more robust Internet solution that provides dedicated connections in each apartment or unit.
The right partner can help you bundle a custom solution at an attractive price that works for you and your residents.
Engagement: Individual and Focused On Whole Health
Many communities have replaced or supplemented group activities with options that engage residents where they are. Safe exercises, faith programming, dining, even telehealth moved to in-room apartments. If your residents struggle with multiple devices, passwords and logins, consider new options that both engage the resident, and help them connect to friends, family and the community, right from the TV.
New systems provide TV-based access to community dining, weather, activities and repairs. More importantly, they can help the resident engage the mind, body and spirit and interact with family, friends and the community. Sophisticated engagement platforms ask questions to assess resident wellbeing and feed personalized content based on the answer. They support the resident journey by including information to make onboarding easier and assessing how well a resident is adjusting to a new community, a lifestyle change or even care staff changes. Today’s new engagement platforms even provide one-click TV access to telehealth services and senior-safe exercises to help the resident when and where they are within the community.
Optimize Employee Time
With staff turnover at an all-time high, you need every advantage to retain your best and brightest. One of the ways to retain employees is to give them modern tools that help them operate more efficiently, which in turn increases satisfaction because they’ll have more time to do what they love: care for residents.
Are you still using pagers? Does your eCall system buzz every staff member every time? Newer technology gives you the power to track resident requested services, customize alarm sounds by alarm type, share resident notes between staff and close alarms when near a resident. These new systems can also help you search for the location of a resident, staff, or piece of equipment, identify actions, including alarm response, by staff name, and request backup if needed.
The Time is Now to Refresh Senior Living Technology
Senior living technologies are evolving rapidly and are rendering older systems obsolete quickly. Whether you are updating an older community, retrofitting a newly acquired community or planning for new construction, you need to make sure your senior living solutions deliver the experiences residents and staff need. It’s time to reimagine your communities, and it starts with your technology evaluation.