By Derek Jones, Deputy
Technology never stops evolving. Many senior living operators are striving to implement the latest tech in current or upcoming projects. This is especially true following the COVID-19 pandemic. We can all remember the havoc caused by the lockdowns and the feeling of powerlessness in most industries.
There is an urgency to leverage the latest technology to ensure the senior living industry is performing to its full potential. Here are four technology trends rapidly making their way into senior living projects.
Telehealth is now, more than ever, becoming a reality following the recent pandemic. There are a number of benefits to telehealth for seniors. It can be used in almost any setting, from a senior living property’s community room to the resident’s own home.
The system is set up so that care providers are able to remotely monitor and communicate with patients. Through video conferencing or voice calls, caregivers are available at all hours of the day. This ensures more convenient and timely care for all residents.
Implementing telehealth as part of your infrastructure reduces the risk of infection spread. It gives residents a chance to be evaluated as soon as symptoms show up. Likewise, it also helps to maintain social distancing measures without completely isolating a resident.
Moreover, telehealth promises to reduce hospitalizations rates and hospital length of stay. This helps free up hospital space for more urgent cases. It also provides a way for senior care in more remote communities, where there are few doctors or hospitals available.
Key takeaway: Integrating telehealth into senior living projects shows you care about your residents. Over the next decade, telehealth is poised to become increasingly seamless.
2. Tech-enabled Infrastructure
In the U.S., the average age of senior living communities is 21 years old. With technology evolving so rapidly, old seniors housing projects have now hit a roadblock. Most senior living communities out there are built on technologies from 20 years ago.
Even if seniors housing promoters decided to upgrade their infrastructure, it would prove a difficult task. Technology upgrades are often not possible due to infrastructure limitations. Current standards would be hard to implement, given the 20-year gap in the way infrastructures were previously set up.
If you are considering a senior living project, you should learn from this major pain point. The overall infrastructure development should be built on a sound technology backbone. Your project should allow room for future upgrades.
Enable automation whenever and wherever possible within your project. For instance, using a simple staff scheduling software instead of the traditional pen-and-paper model can prove a major upgrade. This can significantly improve your productivity and reduce unnecessary operational costs.
Key takeaway: Any future senior living project should aim at being sustainable and feasible for the long run. This starts by developing a technological environment that easily allows future upgrades.
3. Smart Tech
Smart technology is already a hot trend in many homes across the globe. Smart technology has been developed to make things easier on a daily basis. Statista reports that 8.2 million baby boomers own smart speakers. Alarms.orgsuggests that 47 percent of millennials use smart home products.
Keep in mind that in the near future, these millennials will be on the lookout for senior living communities. This could be either for their parents or even themselves a few years down the line. Some baby boomers might already be doing that right now. Missing out on smart technology for your future senior living project can prove a costly mistake.
Most smart technology is here to make routine tasks less of a hassle. In most cases, they are used to maximize the comfort of users. For example, smart tech can be used to turn off the lights without ever walking close to the switch.
Smart tech can be very handy for seniors since it allows them to control their surrounding environment, regardless of mobility. Most features can offer seniors a greater sense of independence since they will be able to get things done with less assistance. For instance, voice control enables someone with deteriorating eyesight to interact with his surroundings.
Interestingly, smart technology can also be used for health monitoring. A number of smartwatches on the market can analyze your body’s metabolism, such as heart rate, and warn users of potential health issues. Recently, Google has been working on and testing smart technologies that can make senior living easier.
Key takeaway: Smart technology is a must-have for future senior living housing projects. By 2025, it is forecasted that one in five homes will use smart tech.
Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is steadily gaining more traction with each passing year. Contrary to popular belief, A.I. is not about replacing human intelligence with a machine, but instead enhancing it. As it becomes more sophisticated and accessible, A.I. is increasingly shaping the way industries operate.
A.I. can take on a wide range of roles in senior living operations. It can be trained to handle the finance of your senior living project and even assist in providing clinical care. This is all possible with its unparalleled ease to transform raw data into meaningful information.
A.I. can be used in the form of wearable devices for your senior residents. Over time, it captures an array of data points about the user and this information can be used to enhance and protect its user. For example, an AI-powered thermostat can learn what temperatures are most comfortable for an individual. From there on, it can automatically adjust the room temperature accordingly.
Simply regulating the room temperature can prevent a senior resident from being dehydrated. Similarly, all other data points collected by the A.I. empower caregivers to examine and take appropriate actions. Furthermore, these insights enable senior living operators to swiftly update policies and protocols based on hard facts.
Key takeaway: A.I. can be integrated into almost all aspects of your senior living housing project. It harnesses data to help management make key decisions and improve resident comfort and safety.
Making full use of the latest technology is a must for any industry. Senior living is no exception. With 34 percent of U.S. citizens reporting they use voice search at least once monthly, it is clear that by not implementing trending tech, you are missing out. Moreover, tech-enabled senior living projects make them more marketable to the next generation of seniors.
In the era we live in, having a strong technology backbone paves the way for a more sustainable business model.
Derek Jones is vice president of enterprise strategy for the Americas. He spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication.