Editor’s Note: The 2020 winners of the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards are being announced Sept. 29 to Oct. 6. Senior Living track winners are being announced here by McKnight’s Senior Living. Senior Living track winners are being announced on the website of sister publication McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Fellowship Community’s Lisa Vercusky had been looking for new ways to engage with memory care residents when an online search at home led her to a tool common in Europe but virtually unheard of in the United States.

The next morning, the corporate quality officer at the 362-unit Whitehall, PA, community took the concept for a table-top virtual activity center directly to David Sutter, director of IT operations.

The Magical Memory Table the team cobbled together over the next year is the Gold winner in the Quality category of the Senior Living track of the 2020 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards. The project combines specialty software with a commercially available computer and projector to cast colorful, interactive videos onto a table. A motion-depth camera makes items respond as residents use their hands to catch virtual fish, move vividly colored balls or bricks or pick flowers.

“It’s really no different than a Fruit Ninja game on your Xbox,” Sutter said. “It was certainly doable.”

What was surprising to the Fellowship team was that nobody seemed to be doing it. So they did it themselves, reaching out to LUMOplay, a Canadian start-up that had used similar video techniques for interactive marketing purposes. Fellowship’s annual service fee gives them ongoing access to customer support, as well as the option to request new games that would match the interests of individual residents.

For now, the table is being used by cognitively impaired residents in the community’s personal care unit. It was a hit — encouraging social interaction among withdrawn residents and providing motor skill practice — even before COVID restricted residents’ other activity choices.

“I’ve seen residents smile that I’ve never seen smile before,” said Cheryl Mengel, vice president of personal care. “All of our staff has been trained to use the table, and it’s available to residents any time there’s a lull in the day.”

Because the table doesn’t require a glass top or any other special features, it is simple to disinfect and reset.

Vercusky is tracking the table’s influence on engagement by using an apathy assessment scale. Eventually, she’d like to build three more for use across campus.

Other Quality award winners in the Senior Living track:

  • Silver: Missouri-based Provision Living’s battle against the “perfect killing machine,” for using Stanley Healthcare’s Foresite to spot early health declines tied to falls and hospitalizations that would increase potential exposure to COVID-19.
  • Bronze: Lifespace Community’s Abbey Delray campus, which worked with Direct Supply to equip new common areas and assisted living and memory care units with technology including video surveillance, digital signage, a wireless nurse call system and complete Wi-Fi coverage.

Competition entries were submitted earlier this year and judged by an independent panel of skilled care and senior living experts and industry professionals.

Stanley Healthcare is the Platinum sponsor of the 2020 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards. MatrixCare is the Gold sponsor for the Senior Living track.