Benchmark Senior Living is using artificial intelligence to identify residents’ common interests, create digital memoirs and inform programming development.

The Waltham, MA-based senior living provider partnered with Tampa, FL-based TSOLife Minerva to collect audio stories, photos and other materials from each resident to create a first-person digital profile. So far, the provider has interviewed more than 1,400 residents across its 63 communities, capturing more than 570 hours of data and 22,000 life stories.

TSOLife offers a business intelligence platform using artificial intelligence to create dashboards for information and personalized tools to help senior living communities make decisions about programming and activities. 

Benchmark Vice President of Revenue Operations Barbara Solomon said the pandemic provided a unique opportunity to gather stories and information from the company’s existing residents. Now that communities are reopening, new residents are interviewed, and their stories and data are added to the growing body of information used to create new opportunities.

TSOLife founder and CEO David Sawyer said the platform pulls metadata from the audio interviews. “We trained AI to take an unstructured conversation and turn it into structured data,” he said.

Benchmark employees, Solomon said, use the insights mined from the data to create person-centered conversation-starters and personal interactions with residents, such as about their favorite sports teams.

Traditionally, she said, the provider captures basic information from new residents through a 12- to 14-page paper profile, including where they lived, favorite foods, grandchildren and what a normal day looks like for that person. All of that information was put in three-ring binders and shared with caregivers to help them get to know the residents and help create a better experience overall for each individual. 

“The beauty of TSOLife is it’s a much better customer experience,” Solomon said. “Residents and families don’t have to fill out 14 pages of anything. We gather a little information on the front end through the sales process and use that to start the profile.

“Within the first couple of days, we do a 30-minute-ish interview. We sit with them and truly just interview them using a phone or a tablet and the TSOLife software. We ask similar questions, but we’re having a conversation.”

Solomon said the process leads to “amazing, rich stories.” 

Those data go into a dashboard, enabling the software to help communities identify common interests among residents. Previously, Solomon said, community workers had to remember who usually attended events and where their interests were. Now, they have the ability to click on an interest or a person and use the resulting information to inform better programming.

“We’re getting smarter about offering what we actually know our residents want to do,” she said. 

The TSOLife software also puts resident data on a timeline and into a storyboard using their actual voice and photos, Solomon said. Communities then can create a virtual scrapbook of a resident’s life that is shared with the resident and their family members.

“The family gets amazing stories in their loved one’s voice,” she said. “We can add pictures to that, take videos and pictures in real time, and link images that are added to that timeline.”

Now that residents have been interviewed and everyone is trained on the software, Solomon said, communities are starting to “rev up” and use the data dashboards to create programming that will elicit the most engagement.

“We were always looking for, ‘How do we make better human connections? How do we improve the resident experience? How do we help associates love where they are? And how do we encourage others to see [that] senior living is a real option?’ ” she said. “This is not a place you go to die; it’s a place you go to live. It’s all about connecting with each other.”