Implementing technology is a tricky proposition for seniors housing operators. Will the return justify the expense? Will staff learn and use the technology? Will residents use it and like it? Perhaps most importantly, will it drive more efficiency and allow fewer employees to do more during a labor crisis?
If a purchase is to be worthwhile, the answer to all of those questions should be “yes.”
That was the message of panelists on a recent webinar entitled “Rethinking Seniors Housing Resident Engagement — Technology that Improves Staff Efficiencies while Enhancing the Resident Experience,” presented by Seniors Housing Business and sponsored by Independa and BlueStar Healthcare.
Panelists included Cindy Loranger, Health IT Resources (moderator); Kian Saneii, Independa; Cheryl Fox, Fox & Associates Home Health/Home Care; and Dr. Christine Perales, Global Healthcare & LifeScience Executive.
“What we want to talk about is innovative and creative ways to step outside of the box of what we already know and what we’ve been doing,” said Loranger. “What’s going to be that next big wave in resident engagement?”
Perales noted that the COVID-19 pandemic shined a light on where there are gaps that technology is needed to fill. The World Health Organization said the shortage of healthcare workers grew from 14 million to 18 million due to the pandemic, she added.
Furthermore, the incoming wave of seniors already expect technology that will keep them connected, and seniors are the second largest population currently using technology for social engagement, said Perales.
“One of the biggest fears, because of the cost of giving care, is where to invest and the cost,” said Perales. “We have to looking at technology that serves the purpose of empowering the workers and easing that workflow, but reduce the burden on the residents.”
Saneii noted that Independa is a cloud-based system that uses televisions, which seniors may be more apt to adopt than a new device. He also adds that it’s important that it’s a platform rather than a system, meaning that other programs can be integrated into it.
Platforms, he said, can create efficiencies by combining multiple processes into a single space. As an example, he cites the long process of creating and distributing dining menus. Someone has to look at the food coming in and create the menu, then someone else prints it, a third person distributes them, and yet another enters it into the digital signage system.
“That’s pretty inefficient, and it’s a system with a lot of places to break down and a lot of people involved,” said Saneii. “What if the menu comes in automatically and becomes available on a resident’s TV? What if you could order through that same system? What if that same menu could automatically show up in your digital signage? What if family members could also see that?”
In this same way, residents could learn about and sign up for events, hopefully increasing attendance, adds Saneii. Independa is also HIPAA compliant, meaning it can be used for clinical engagement, such as telemedicine visits.
Fox, who works in home health, says these types of systems have helped her company with a variety of issues. She’s used them for everything from throwing a multi-state, multi-generational birthday party to helping a patient understand his new medication to remotely playing music, signing and dancing to calm down an agitated dementia patient.
“We try to be as diverse and flexible as possible, and enhance people’s lives,” said Fox.
To view the entire webinar, click here.
— Jeff Shaw