K4Community mobile app on smartphone
Daily app users increased by more than 50% over the past six months. (Image courtesy of K4Connect)

Technology is helping residents of one California senior living community get to know who is behind the mask while maintaining pandemic safety.

Sequoia Living’s Viamonte at Walnut Creek strives to be seen as “the most technologically savvy community around,” Director of Life Enrichment Kate Douglas told McKnight’s Senior Living. Through a partnership with tech company K4Connect, Viamonte at Walnut Creek is working on its “cutting edge” image.

Those efforts are paying off.

Over the past six months — after implementing the K4Community Plus app — the senior living community reports that daily app users grew by more than 50%, there was a 190% increase in the total number of voice commands given through K4Community Voice powered by Amazon Alexa, and there was a 200% increase in the number of smart lighting commands used. A majority of residents (77%) viewed community photos, 65% viewed community shared videos and 84% used smart lighting controls.

Another way technology is helping residents of the San Francisco Bay area community through the pandemic is a staff and resident directory that virtually “unmasks” everyone.

“Especially during COVID-19, the mask use limited our communities’ ability to connect,” Douglas said. “The directories hold photos of residents and staff, which has helped residents get to know each other — and staff members.”

Viamonte at Walnut Creek also is using technology to increase resident access to information through dining menus, entertainment content and community event listings; keep residents connected to loved ones through video chat, messaging and photo-sharing; provide access to smart home lighting features; and provide efficiencies for staffing and safety through a resident check-in program.

Douglas said the K4Community Plus app and web browser that is accessible to residents holds a library of information about the community. Residents also have access to programmed Amazon Echo devices that can read information from the app and web browser.

“With these tools, we have numerous avenues for providing information about the community for our residents,” she said. “This hub of information has helped residents find what they need to know, which eases questions and workload for staff.”

An automated resident check-in process using motion-enabled smart home and voice-activated devices decreased the time needed for staff members to resolve alerts by 79% over the past six months, according to K4Connect. The technology allows staff members to complete checks on more than 135 residents in less than 90 minutes, saving staff resources and improving risk management.

“With motion sensor technology, our resident check-in system allows for community members to be cared for each day, with no disruption in their day,” Douglas said. 

Growing interest

Douglas said there were initial challenges and hesitation — by both staff members and residents — to adopting the technology. But she said she worked with directors and employees in each department to show them how the technology works and how it could benefit their department.

Viamonte also turned to its residents for help. A volunteer group of residents interested in technology hosts monthly meetings, and members are part of a monthly check-in with K4Community, where they share their tips with fellow residents who need help with the technology.

“The residents have been instrumental in supporting the K4Community effort at our community,” Douglas said.