Editor’s Note: The 2019 winners of the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards are being announced Oct. 4 to 11. Senior Living track winners are being announced here by McKnight’s Senior Living. Skilled Care track winners are being announced on the website and newsletter of sister publication McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Caretel Inns seized Gold in the category of High-High, High-Touch in the Senior Living track of the 2019 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards for creating its own smart nurse call light system. It is the second year in a row the Michigan skilled nursing and assisted living chain earned top honors in the competition, last year having won Gold in the Training category of the Skilled Care track.

IT Director David Hamilton embarked on the project recognized this year because he had become frustrated with the communities’ various nurse call light systems, which were expensive to maintain and not nearly as effective as he thought they could be. Enter the T Box, the name for the system Hamilton designed and developed (so called because it is shaped like a block T) in collaboration from staff.

Among its various features:

  • A built-in Smart Assistant allows a resident to speak to the box, eliminating the need for pendants, long cords or time spent searching for a button. The Smart Assistant also is connected to the room lights and links to the meal and activity calendars. Finally, the Smart Assistant can answer questions and set alarms.
  • The hallway call lights start out white and turn red after a set period of time. This capability helps nurses know whose light has been on longest. Additionally, the call light plays one note of the “Star-Spangled Banner” every minute, so nurses know for how many minutes a room has had on its call light.
  • A maintenance and dietary button enables residents to make requests or put in orders for these two departments.
  • A window alarm will alert staff members if a window has been opened too far, as a way to reduce the risk of elopements. 

Hamilton is proud of creating a product that is easy to use and not overly engineered, as is the case with some other systems.

“One of the issues I have had with some previous call light systems is that they put a lot of bells and whistles into them that simply are not practical and thus become unused,” he told McKnight’s Senior Living. “I believe that our high-tech add-ons are actually very useful for both staff and residents/guests and, again, help our staff become more efficient and help our residents and guests to be, just maybe, a little bit more independent.”

To find out more about the system, visit hamiltonsmart.com.

Other High-Tech, High-Touch winners:

2019 McKnight's Tech Awards logo
  • Silver: Benedictine Health System, of Shoreview, MN, for creating an automated diffusion aromatherapy ecosystem for residents and staff. Aromatic Healthcare partnered with Benedictine on the ecosystem, which eliminates the need for monitoring and refilling diffusers frequently and making sure the diffusers are on during vital times of day, such as sundown and bedtime. Aromatherapy, a nonpharmacologic intervention, is believed to positively affect the body, mind and spirit.
  • Bronze: The 80th Street Residence, an enhanced memory care community in New York City, for using voice-activated technology to improve recreation and other aspects of care for residents. The Soundmind software has several applications, such as playing a variety of music, self-start meditation sessions, sing-alongs and trivia, as well as answering residents’ questions.

Entries for the competition were submitted earlier this year and judged by an independent panel of senior living and skilled care experts.

Stanley Healthcare is the Platinum Sponsor of the 2019 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards. MatrixCare is the Gold Sponsor of the Senior Living track.