Santa unpacked a bag full of smart technology at The Cardinal at North Hills’ recent holiday party.

K4Connect CEO Scott Moody, dressed as the legendary figure, passed out Echo Dot devices Dec. 19 to residents of the Raleigh, NC, Kisco Senior Living life plan community as part of its expanded partnership with the operator.

The devices use Amazon Alexa, with K4Connect’s flagship product, K4Community, to provide voice-first smart home experiences for residents. Residentes can access community content; manage their smart home and wellness devices; communicate with loved ones, community members and the front desk; and sign up for events and outings.

With the visit from Santa, The Cardinal is now fully voice-enabled. And with that visit, The Cardinal became one of the most recent communities to harness Alexa for its residents and staff. But it certainly won’t be the last.

Atlanta-based Thrive Senior Living, for instance, on Thursday announced plans to integrate conversational artificial intelligence across all of its independent living, assisted living and memory care communities in 2019, working with Aiva Health, a Silicon Valley-based startup.

Aiva uses Google Home, Amazon Echo and smart speakers. The voice operating system is built on a suite of enterprise applications – a mobile app for caregivers to manage help requests, a dashboard for performance reporting and a backend for controlling the voice assistants’ settings and interactions with other smart devices such as TVs, lights and thermostats.

When residents interact with the devices, they are able to speak with caregivers directly via mobile apps, and caregivers can respond in their own voices, routing specific requests to team members to fulfill them. Residents also can use the devices to check the weather, perform information searches and receive information about social events in the community, dining menus and calendar notifications.

“Integrating technology into our communities is a basic, yet powerful way to help our residents feel more connected,” Thrive President Les Strech said in a statement. “It allows our team members to spend less time managing logistics and more time building relationships, ultimately improving quality of life for older adults.”

Thrive conducted a seven-week pilot program in two communities and found that residents used the voice controls at twice the rate of average users for a variety of requests, ranging from playing music to checking their social calendars to asking for help from caregivers. Team members who used the technology arrived to residents’ rooms more quickly and better informed, the company said. Socially, residents reported that they enjoyed the sense of companionship provided by the technology.

And last year, Ft. Worth, TX-based Civitas Senior Living announced a partnership with Capitol Seniors Housing and CT Home to pilot-test the use of Amazon’s virtual assistant, Alexa, in each resident apartment at Park Creek Independent Living in suburban Houston, with plans to roll out the virtual assistant to its other independent living communities over the following months.

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