There’s no question that 2020 was challenging, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Not only are residents and staff among the first in line for COVID-19 vaccines, but many senior living operators are also transforming the resident experience with new models for enrichment and person-centered engagement.
Forward-thinking senior living operators are re-examining their life enrichment programs to develop engagement models that build purpose and meaning in residents’ lives. These models emphasize person-centered engagement to mitigate feelings of loneliness, isolation, and depression among seniors at any time, even during periods of precautionary isolation. As these leaders implement better life enrichment models, they are using engagement technology as a strategic tool to deliver the cognitive stimulation and social connections residents need to thrive. This technology gives seniors access to content experiences and social connections that bring them joy.
This blog post is the second installment of a two-part series highlighting the benefits of engagement technology. While the first post discussed the importance of empowering every staff member to deliver person-centered engagement, this entry focuses on:
- How technology-enabled engagement solutions can improve the resident experience
- How this technology helps keep residents connected to loved ones
- Why senior living communities should use engagement technology to differentiate their offering
Improve the Resident Experience with Technology-Enabled Engagement
An enterprise-wide, technology-enabled engagement solution provides a powerful tool for senior living operators to offer individualized care to residents. Traditional activities programming, even when backed by technology, has typically taken a one-size-fits-most approach to community engagement. Bingo, trivia, and similar programming can provide fleeting entertainment for residents, but how far do these activities go in truly enriching their lives?
With large group activities prohibited, communities are discovering that smaller, targeted group activities are more fulfilling for residents. In recent months, many senior living communities have created pods—groups of three to five seniors with similar interests who interact exclusively with each other to socially isolate and contain possible virus outbreaks. These pods engage in small group activities to help them combat loneliness and to meaningfully connect with each other. Engagement technology systems support these efforts.
For example, staff can wheel mobile touch screen systems into hallways so residents can participate in activities from their doorways, from the safety of their rooms, while maintaining social distance from neighbors. More importantly, technology-enabled engagement systems give communities the power to capture knowledge about residents’ interests and preferences. Staff can then access that information to create tailored programming that meets the needs of individual residents. They can also use the data to match residents with shared interests to facilitate the development of friendships.
By taking actions like these, many communities have accelerated their progress to meaningful person-centered engagement. As a result, these communities, pushed to meet the engagement needs of individuals and pods rather than large groups, are poised to provide an even better socialization when the pandemic is over.
Keep Residents Connected to Family and Loved Ones
Now more than ever, family members want to be assured of their loved one’s well-being, and they want to have a role in enhancing it. Technology-enabled engagement systems make that possible.
The ability to keep residents in touch with their families has become a requirement, not just a “nice to have.” With a robust engagement technology system, a resident’s profile can be accessed from any device, and with a push of a button, that resident can start a video chat with a loved one. Through an app on their phone, family members can easily add personal photos, videos, and other memories to favorite activities and applications on their elder’s personalized profile page.
Communities are also investing in senior-friendly tablets that offer content experiences curated to meet the needs of older adults at all levels of care and ability. Touch screen systems are great for group activities, but tablets are a gamechanger. They let residents direct their own engagement and socialization. Communities that wish to succeed in person-centered engagement should invest in sturdy tablets with a senior-friendly interface that make it easy to initiate communications and share content. These devices also provide easy access to digital experiences and track each resident’s data usage so that families can receive documentation of how well their loved one is socializing.
Support Marketing Efforts and Boost Occupancy Rates
The difference technology-enabled engagement can make when it’s deployed throughout a senior living community can be transformative. There’s a culture change when all residents experience the joy of living when they are engaged in meaningful, person-centered activities and connect easily with the people they care about.
A community that has successfully implemented a technology-enabled engagement platform can expect higher satisfaction scores from residents and their family members. This can translate into more referrals and testimonials. Additionally, the community can show the system to prospective residents and their families. By using these systems as a selling point, communities can reduce their sales cycles and boost occupancy rates.
Build a Culture of Person-Centered Resident Care
Start deploying engagement technology throughout your senior living community and equip the entire staff to use it. This strategy improves the resident experience. It also differentiates your community to become a destination of choice for both residents and caregivers.
To get more insight on how other senior living operators have used engagement technology to transform their community, read our case study, The Engagement Imperative: Elevating Technology from the Activity Department to an Enterprise Strategy.