Matt Phipps headshot
Matt Phipps

Google “senior living technology” and you are sure to find myriad news articles, trend lists and commentary pieces on the subject. The “there’s an app for that” culture is here to stay, and our industry is realizing many benefits.

In most sectors, this isn’t very newsworthy; however, in senior living, it is important to balance interpersonal communication and the use of technology, as opposed to leaning on intelligent tech to replace that human touch.

Deciding where and when to harness these innovations, being careful not to inhibit personal interaction, will continue to be key in in determining the best use for intelligent technology in our business.

Residents, first and foremost

Resident safety and care rise to the top of the list of applications for smart tech. This is particularly true in environments like ours, where teams work closely with residents, families and personal physicians to create personalized plans across the continuum of care and for restorative rehabilitation services, serious illness or surgery.

For example, our team at Birches Health Center at Trillium Woods has employed an intelligent, hands-free Vocera Badge that connects individuals and groups to the information they need for resident care with simple voice commands. 

The teams at Trillium Woods and LCS are very proud of this advancement, particularly our recent McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Award, but the outcome for residents is even more exciting.

AI technology also is making its way into the hospitality side of our industry.

What had proven to be a viable solution for COVID-related staffing challenges, “Servi the Robot,” known in our community “Trilli,” has become much more than an innovative taskmaster that helps waitstaff of Trillium Woods by delivering dishes to residents and their guests.

More importantly, this technology frees up staff time to cater to the holistic needs of those dining, whether it be a helping hand, an empathetic ear, or a watchful eye to monitor unforeseen changes in behavior that could suggest residents have needs they are not sharing with their care team.

Staff appreciate the helping hand, literally; and residents love Trilli for the “neat” factor, as well as the fact team members now have more time to interact, shoot the breeze and cater to personal needs. Trilli gives our team more of an opportunity to engage with residents, touch base and see what’s new

Staff satisfaction and retention

Staff satisfaction and retention are critical to running any business, especially one that entails providing high-quality care to residents. To that end, supporting and listening to our team is paramount. Recently, we executed a staff survey at Trillium Woods that found 90% of the team reporting that they could perform their jobs more efficiently if they had a better way to communicate with each other on the job. Seventy percent also stated that their jobs would be more enjoyable if they had better ways to communicate.

This led us to implementing a Vocera solution to facilitate internal communications.

Within months, the Vocera Badge and smartphone application significantly increased staff satisfaction related to workflow efficiency and communication. In addition, we learned that nurses were saving an average of 30 minutes per shift leveraging this technology because they no longer had to spend valuable time looking for help or finding other staff members to support them when situations arose.  

This success led us to integrate technology solutions into our nurse call system, enabling care team members to speak directly with residents, which is expected to help improve staff response times once completed. 

In the end, we are enhancing employee wellness and improving the work environment by simply providing a better way to communicate and collaborate. The proof, they say, is in the proverbial pudding.

Although change can often be difficult, it also can be exhilarating when we see the right technology being embraced the right way, to the benefit of staff and residents.

Staff and resident satisfaction, improved health outcomes, and operational efficiencies. It’s a tech-enabled win-win-win.

Matt Phipps is executive director of Trillium Woods, offering a continuum of care in Plymouth, MN.

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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