One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that older adults have increased their use of digital technology, which has helped them connect with friends and family and entertain themselves. For many seniors, their new digital devices have become a permanent fixture in their lives, and many are seeking new tech skills to match. A recent AARP survey bears this out. More than half (53%) of adults over 70 own a tablet, up from 40% in 2019; and 69% report using their tablets daily.
As you look at current and prospective residents, how can you improve the digital experience your community offers to meet their needs and expectations? How can you transform your traditional senior activity program into a person-centered enrichment and wellness program?
Support Optimal Resident Engagement With the Right Elder Tech
Your community may be looking for additional ways to increase purposeful engagement and social connections among seniors—especially as the pandemic ensues. Making senior-friendly technology part of every resident’s daily life can help achieve this goal. With a robust engagement technology system, you can add another dimension to resident life and improve well-being.
The ideal engagement technology platform can address barriers to technology usage and enable the connections and individualized experiences residents need to thrive. A good system will include:
- Senior-friendly hardware that features a mix of handheld devices or tablets and easy-to-see, large format touch screen systems to access enriching content experiences
- An extensive content library curated for older adults
- Personalization and community-building features, including resident and staff profiles and interest matching
These systems can work seamlessly with resident engagement strategies that emphasize social connectedness and person-centered experiences. Here are three opportunities we’re sharing with communities that are on the path to implementing technology to improve seniors’ lives.
Opportunity 1: Emphasize Small Group Engagement Based on Residents’ Preferences
Gathering in small groups, or clubs, enables residents to explore what excites them and what they want to learn. It also gives them ample opportunities to share skills and talents with others. When you consider that 50% of residents surveyed said they never felt like they had any friends in their community, imagine the sense of purpose and belonging residents will have when they are active members of several clubs.
Identifying and then matching residents’ interests can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, and this is where technology can help. With a comprehensive engagement technology solution, you can easily capture and regularly update resident information. This information can be used to discover overlapping interests and other insights that can help you organize and sustain your community’s clubs.
Opportunity 2: Give Every Senior Their Own Personal Device
In the early stages of the pandemic, many seniors missed regular contact with friends or family because they did not have their own smartphone or tablet; and if they did, it was often difficult for them to manage without staff help. Seniors who did not use technology to stay connected to their loved ones were more likely to feel lonely or bored and suffer from declining health.
By giving each senior their own easy-to-use device, communities can ward off feelings of loneliness even after the need for precautionary isolation passes. As a result, each resident can direct their connection and engagement experiences, thereby enriching their days with activities of their choosing.
Senior-friendly tablets that integrate with your community’s engagement technology system unify the community under one platform, resulting in economies of scale in engagement, socialization, training, and support. When selecting a tablet for your community, evaluate its ease of use, security and personalization features, and connectivity tools. Look for a device that is designed for seniors at all levels of physical and cognitive ability and that does not require previous technology experience. Make sure this solution enables seniors to easily connect with family and friends, keep medical appointments via telehealth capabilities, and entertain themselves with immersive content applications.
Opportunity 3: Make Resident Engagement Everyone’s Responsibility
The pandemic showed how essential frontline staff can be in mitigating feelings of loneliness and isolation among people in residential care settings. However, staff often had little time to offer moments of companionship. That’s why it’s essential that communities make resident engagement part of everyone’s responsibility. When residents are surrounded by a team that’s dedicated to their social well-being, they are more likely to get the person-centered care they need to thrive. Additionally, all staff can gain a sense of pride and purpose by playing an important role in residents’ wellness.
With the right technology, communities can make engagement part of a care plan that every staff member supports. When all frontline workers can tap into the engagement technology platform, you can unify your community around resident engagement. In that way, each staff member will have the information and content they need to interact with a resident who seems bored or agitated. A platform that lets you organize engagement ideas and content under situation categories—such as weekends, volunteering, and sundowning—gives users access to the right content experience whenever they need it, whether they’ve received training or not.
Spark Social Connections and Purposeful Engagement
Now more than ever, residents need immersive socialization and enrichment that fuels their purpose, and engagement technology is a strategic enabler. Taking advantage of these three opportunities will bring your community closer to this ideal. They provide the first steps for building a better resident experience, where the power of human connections and purposeful engagement is at work for every senior. For more insights on transforming your community, read our ebook.