Over the course of the pandemic, senior living communities have upgraded their safety plans to better protect their residents and staff from new threats. One of the most impactful ways that senior living communities enhance their safety is through the implementation of technology solutions. With the right tools and resources, senior living administrators can improve their facilities’ communication, resident engagement, quality of care and so much more.

As the omicron subvariant BA.2 spreads throughout the United States, it’s important that senior living communities continue to innovate and embrace how their technology can help protect and improve their community.

One of the most helpful tools that many senior living communities have adopted throughout the pandemic is in-room portals. Such a portal is a great way to keep residents engaged and informed, even when the facility is operating under different circumstances, such as quarantine or with visiting restrictions.

Residents can access a variety of services, including meal-ordering, event sign-ups, daily check-in, email, video calling and more. Those services put power directly into residents’ hands and encourage them to engage both inside and outside of their community.

The in-room portal also is great for dispensing information to residents, which has been a high priority during the pandemic. Whether staff members want to share a reminder about COVID safety, inform residents of a new protocol or give any other updates, they are able to do this quickly with a message sent directly to each resident’s in-room portal.

Senior living communities also have implemented technologies that can help directly address concerns around the spread of COVID-19. Thermal imaging and visitor kiosks can help monitor who is entering the building each day, to help screen visitors and give information to help with contact tracing. For example, when visitors enter the building, they could be required to enter their names and contact information as well as answer a health questionnaire before being able to meet with residents. Their doing so can help senior living communities ensure resident safety as well as obtain contact information to inform visitors or residents of potential COVID exposures if an infection is identified.

Another tool that has helped many senior living communities throughout the pandemic is an automated alerting platform. With an automated alerting platform, senior living administrators have been able to connect all of their disparate technology systems. When all of these technologies are put onto one platform, they are able to work together.

For instance, if a facility has mobile duress buttons, door access control, visitor management or cameras, among other systems, they can be integrated into the automated alerting platform so that if any of these technologies are triggered, an alert will be sent out to the proper individuals from one source. This alerting capability helps improve workflow for staff members, because rather than monitoring all of these different systems from various devices or outlets, they can receive all of their systems’ alerts in one place. It also allows staff members to help residents much more quickly by minimizing response times and freeing up staff members to spend more of their time focused on resident care. During the pandemic, this capability has been especially important, as many communities have been experiencing ing with staff shortages and don’t have the employees or time to spare on unnecessary work.

Senior living communities have made many technological advances during the pandemic that already have helped prepare them for the potential challenges the latest coronavirus variant may present. As long as senior living administrators continue to leverage their existing technology and implement solutions to stay up-to-date, they will be able to navigate the pandemic as it continues to evolve.

Danielle Myers is general manager at Status Solutions.

The opinions expressed in each McKnight’s Senior Living marketplace column are those of the author and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Senior Living.

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