For its efforts to reconnect residents with loved ones during the pandemic, Inlet Coastal Resort has won Gold in the Keep It Super Simple category of the 2020 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards.

The low-country assisted living and memory care community kept its approach simple by emphasizing time together and privacy.

At the beginning of COVID-19 restrictions that put a stop to indoor visits, Inlet leaders set up windows where residents and family members could safely interact. They quickly noticed exchanges being made by poster board and white board, as some residents weren’t able to hear their guests through the glass.

So the community purchased Eversound’s wireless, long-range headphones to enable better communication.

“The value of hearing the sounds of a loved one’s voice, especially after months of separation, cannot be measured in data or metrics,” the provider said in its contest entry.

But the service adds more than high-quality sound for hearing-impaired residents, according to Administrator William Burr.

“What we’re also finding is that the residents still have some privacy, because anyone who is passing by can only hear one side of the conversation,” he told McKnight’s Senior Living.

Another feature of visiting at Inlet Coastal is a “book now” feature, available on the community’s Facebook page. Although officials don’t limit visit frequencies, the sign-up gave them a way to manage visits, prepare for popular arrival times by setting up additional windows, and automate reminders. The booking button can be accessed anytime, anywhere by anyone with a smartphone, and it saves staff members the time and struggle of trying to coordinate visits by phone.

The community continues to use the booking feature and headphones, even as it transitions to allow some in-person visits on the grounds.

Other Keep It Super Simple awards in the Senior Living track:

  • Silver: Hillcrest Health Services in Nebraska, which incorporates apps such as a karaoke, Duolingo for language learning, and crosswords into its Montessori approach to dementia care.
  • Bronze: Michigan-based Advantage Living Centers. It uses Direct Supply’s DS smart and bluetooth-equipped monitoring tools to automatically relay information about residents’ vital signs to their electronic medical records.

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.