Editor’s Note: We began announcing the 2019 winners of the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards Friday and will be announcing more winners all week. Senior Living track winners are being announced by McKnight’s Senior Living; see previously announced winners here. Skilled Care track winners are being announced on the website and newsletter of sister brand McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.

Brookdale Canyon Lake residents make the news, literally, every week. For this reason, the Kennewick, WA, community won the top prize, Gold, in the Activities category of the Senior Living track of the 2019 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards.

“Our residents do not have backgrounds in video production or news journalism, so to see the way they have embraced learning about not only news production, but the technology behind it, is inspiring,” Sara Terry, senior vice president of resident family engagement and experience at Brentwood, TN-based Brookdale Senior Living, told McKnight’s Senior Living.

The broadcasting endeavor began a few years ago when then-Resident Programs Director Joe Green became inspired by a student-run daily news show at the school where his wife worked. He decided that the older adults living at the independent and assisted living community could do the same thing — with some modifications.

When Green approached members of the iPad class at the community with his idea, they were interested. He then began teaching the residents how to use the iMovie app. The older adults planned, filmed and edited their own short films, an experience that culminated in a film festival at the community in late 2013.

The film fest became the catalyst for “This Week at Canyon Lakes,” a weekly show. Residents held production meetings where they pitched, assigned and scheduled stories for recording. Interviews were recorded mid-week, allowing for special coverage to be recorded through the rest of the week. Once edited, the episodes are shared on Vimeo, Facebook and through email with residents, friends and families. Episodes have been watched more than 50,000 times in more than 60 countries.

Participation has grown to a crew of more than 20 residents, who along the way have learned how to select and operate cameras, microphones, script-writing and video-editing programs, lighting and studio equipment such as a teleprompter.

Other award winners in the Activities category of the Senior Living track of the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards: 

2019 McKnight's Tech Awards logo
  • Silver: Vancouver, WA-based JEA Senior Living for system-wide implementation of technology for people with hearing loss. The organization outfitted all of its communities with Eversound wireless headphone system, which blocks or drowns out much of the background noise and sound distractions so people can watch movies and presentations and participate in other group activities. Thanks to the technology, residents are more engaged in daily life and able to mitigate the social isolation that comes with hearing loss, according to JEA. 
  • Bronze: Thorne Crest Senior Living Community, of Albert Lea, MN, for its use of three types of technology: Eversound headphones; an It’s Never Too Late computer system that is updated frequently with music, games and activities; and a Rendever virtual reality system that is designed for older adults.

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.