Editor’s Note: McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards winners will be announced every day this week. Senior Living track winners will be announced here by McKnight’s Senior Living (read about the winning entries already announced here). Skilled care track winners will be announced on the website of sister publication McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Communities that use a virtual reality staff training program and a unified nurse call and wander management system are the Gold winners of the Innovator of the Year and Safety categories, respectively, in the Senior Living track of the 2018 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards. Chicago Methodist Senior Services and Bickford Senior Living are the respective winners in these categories.

Gold Award – Innovator of the Year, Senior Living

McKnight’s 2018 Excellence in Technology Awards

Chicago Methodist Senior Services uses Embodied Labs’ virtual reality training program to provide “immersive experiences” that help caregivers understand what it’s like for residents who live with vision impairment, hearing loss and Alzheimer’s disease, and it also has used modules related to end-of-life decisions and hospice care.

“We want our team members to be part of an innovative learning experience that not only is enjoyable but ultimately improves their learning outcomes,” Chicago Methodist Senior Services CEO Bill Lowe said.

To undergo the training, staff members wear a headset that is connected to a laptop computer. Alternatively, the laptop can be connected to a projector or TV display to show the experience to a group.

“Our pre and post-immersion assessments measure growth of empathy, reduction in ageism and stereotyping of older adults, growth of self-reported confidence in providing care, growth in ability to take the perspective of another, and increase in knowledge of disease presentation,” Lowe said.

Other winners in the Innovator of the Year category of the Senior Living track:

Silver Award: LCB Senior Living, for Gretchen, an intranet platform launched earlier this year to support community leaders. The platform, which can be accessed via mobile as well as desktop, contains all policies and procedures and forms; a directory of company personnel, including contact information and instant messaging capability; a calendar of events; business card and stationery ordering capability; reputation scores and current reviews; procurement and group purchasing information; and operations and sales snapshots. “It’s too early to see any measurable effect on our overall company performance, but we will be tracking it,” LCB said on its nomination form. “We’re confident that we will see improvements in such metrics as accounts receivable, labor hours, overtime, turnover and expense savings, to name a few.” Aerie Consulting, Yardi and Paychex were involved in developing the system.

Bronze Award: The Goodman Group, for its use of salivary alpha-amylase (sAA) analysis and a saliva collection method at admission and with changes in behavior, to determine the stress levels of assisted living memory care residents and improve the quality of care provided to them. “The new technology enhanced the ability of staff to identify activities/events and interventions that increased or decreased the stress levels of the residents and is reflected in the plan of care accordingly,” the organization said on its nomination form. It also has “the potential to advance research regarding effectiveness of interventions for individuals with cognitive impairments,” The Goodman Group said.

Gold Award – Safety, Senior Living

When Bickford Senior Living’s wireless nurse call and wander management system was discontinued unexpectedly, the organization looked for a new solution and arrived at JNL Technologies’ Quantum system because it enabled communities to control wander management and access control features in a single control unit, and it could cover wireless nurse call needs via the platform as well.

Staff members have reported that the system takes 31% less time to manage than the previous system, which allows them to spend more time with residents, Bickford Director of Property Management Danny Moss said. “Also, by bringing wandering, access control and nurse call into one system, we have been able to reduce costs by an estimated 20% over purchasing each solution separately,” he said.

Quantum logs all safety and security events that happen in a facility, which can be viewed via an insights report tool, Moss said. “The report system also summarizes the data, so it is simple for our staff to spot care trends and monitor staff performance,” he added.

Data from all communities are consolidated in a dashboard, allowing regional and corporate staff to track care quality. “It also allows senior management the ability to ensure systems are being maintained properly (such as addressing low batteries),” Moss said.

Other winners in the Safety category of the Senior Living track:

Silver Award: United Methodist Communities, for its use of RL Solutions’ adverse event reporting software throughout all of its full-service and affordable housing senior communities. “Aggregate reports demonstrate trends and patterns and show which residents, units, communities, etc. may require extra attention, staffing and safety precautions. …These numbers are shared at safety meetings, which occur monthly at all full-service UMC communities, and within daily huddles. These reports are also tailored to QAPI needs and the requirements of accountable care organizations,” the organization wrote in its nomination. Managers quickly are informed of details of adverse events and can reinforce safety among caregivers, UMC said.

Bronze Award: Carlton Senior Living, for its use of the RF Technologies nurse call system. “Although the RFT nurse call system is nothing new, what we were able to do is replace traditional smoke detectors with RFT wireless smoke detectors. If there is a fire inside the resident’s unit, it will alert the staff,” Carlton said in its nomination. The organization also integrated a third-party product that enables all alerts to go to team digital radios. “It is not only cost-effective but more importantly, the efficiency of the alert system presents additional opportunities to help aid in a resident’s well-being and possibly save a life,” Carlton said. The company also is piloting a motion sensor system to replace traditional bed pad alarms. “It is not only less intrusive for residents but helps to maintain privacy and dignity and allows our staff to serve the residents more efficiently,” the organization said.

Stanley Healthcare is the Platinum Sponsor of the 2018 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards. Matrixcare is the Gold Sponsor of the senior living track, and Netsmart is the Gold Sponsor of the skilled care track.