The future of senior living technology: Choice, control and connection

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Delaine Blazek
Delaine Blazek

What would it take to get residents and families to feel valued, socially engaged and empowered?

What if staff could provide better care because they were more efficient and had access to real-time, actionable information?

What if you could boost revenue, worry less about occupancy and retain employees for longer periods of time? 

Innovative technology can help you achieve these goals while giving you a competitive edge.

But the better way to prepare for today and the future is by choosing a platform that seamlessly connects disparate systems into a single view and is specific to the needs and interests of each stakeholder group: residents, families and staff.

Whether you're looking to integrate existing technologies, add new solutions or start fresh, pay attention to what I call the three “Cs” — choice, control and connection.

Choice

As people age, often their perceived choices narrow. They clearly do have choices when deciding on a senior living community, however.

If older adults believe their opinions and wellbeing are important to a community's staff and management — that they matter — then they're going to find that community to be more appealing. Messages can be conveyed and reinforced through technology.

Good technology needs to include ample choice. Residents might:

  • digitally plan and attend activities;
  • view menus and order room service;
  • peruse entertainment offerings;
  • adjust room controls (such as lights, temperature, music or aromatherapy);
  • receive voice-activated reminders;
  • participate in self-created social communities;
  • place a concierge request;
  • or schedule transportation

And that's all with an electronic solution that has an easy-to-use, senior-friendly interface that is in alignment with their particular care level.

Adult children, spouses or grandchildren can choose to talk, message, video chat, upload memories to a digital memory box, pay a resident statement or order a special gift for their loved one from the community store. They also can communicate directly with care teams and staff.

Choice is not only empowerment but also an antidote to the same old routine that can lead to boredom and depression. Senior engagement also can aid in the reduction of psychotropic drugs by applying a holistic mentality around senior living and care options.

Control

When older adults can decide how things are done, they feel a sense of control. Residents can connect with others as they like and when they like.

Staff members and members of senior management also need control over data. Without a unified platform, many communities must manually sort data from as many as 20 systems. How is that efficient?

A unified platform can filter, sort and report, and eliminate duplicate data entry and save time compiling the information. Viewing data holistically rather than as one area at a time allows leaders to make impactful changes quickly based on business intelligence (BI), statistical facts and patterns.

A unified platform also provides a clear picture of the entire portfolio in real time. It can ensure that the right information gets to the right person at the right time, giving them control to take necessary and immediate action.

Connection

Do your technology systems bolster relationships within the entire care team? Staying connected through social engagement can mitigate isolation and loneliness for all community members.

What better way to leverage technology than to have it foster relationship-centered care? It's prudent business, too: when people are happy, they tend to stay longer, whether they're residents or staff members. Plus, happy residents lead to stabilized occupancy and organic referral sources.

Technology that connects families is a selling point for a community provider. Residents sometimes think that when they move to a community setting, their children will be less attentive. Knowing that they can always stay in touch with family members is important to them.

For families, technology keeps them informed of community events and the needs of their loved ones. It's an easy way to engage regularly with staff and feel included in the care team.

For staff members, it's not enough to glean relevant information; technology should offer a way to get to know families. It can transform communication, allowing them to deliver personalized care based on each resident's experiences, wellbeing, needs and feelings.

Better technology

Technology is a tremendous marketing tool. It also can add a positive perception of “state-of-the-art” to your community. The message: We're not just up-to-date but also forward-thinking.

Technology also can engage everyone in the community, empower residents and help families feel connected and informed. Unified technology can improve relationships across the entire community. 

It also can help staff members become more efficient, support better care delivery, enrich BI, increase and stabilize occupancy and, ultimately, generate revenue.

Today, a technology plan is no longer an option – it's a must. At Oneview, we believe the real power and benefits of technology will be realized once all systems are working together to give the entire community more choice, control and connection.

Delaine Blazek is a senior living thought leader and Oneview Healthcare executive.

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