We’re entering a golden era of technology for assisted living communities. Now that more and more communities have widespread internet access and more and more staff, residents, and family members have mobile devices, community leaders are able to use technology to support assisted living residents better than ever.
In this piece, we’ll highlight nine must-have technology solutions that can improve daily life for residents, staff, family, and community executives.
1. In-Room TV Streaming
The best technology solutions in assisted living communities are those that successfully connect residents to the larger community. To that end, TV streaming can be hugely effective, precisely because most assisted living residents are comfortable using TVs.
This is great news, because the power of streaming means you can turn any resident TV into an information hub. For example, the right software makes it possible to…
- Display digital signage on a dedicated channel so residents can tune in any time of the day or night to see community updates: menus, activities calendars, upcoming outings, weather forecasts, and so on.
- Stream community events. This proved particularly useful during COVID-19 quarantines, but it’s also useful for any resident with limited mobility. Live streams let anyone attend events virtually, which can help them feel connected to the community.
- Stream fitness classes. Services like Spiro 100 stream a variety of fitness classes straight to TV, meaning residents can attend from the comfort of their own home.
2. 24 / 7 Phone Line
Again, not all of the technology necessary to support assisted living communities is brand new. A 24 / 7 phone line with recorded information (menus, schedules, upcoming events, instructions for reaching staff, etc.) is a great way to provide essential info to residents and family who are most comfortable on the phone.
Making information available in multiple formats is a great way to make sure everyone has the ability to get the information they need in a format they’re comfortable with.
3. Smart Home Technology
Even before we learned to turn on the TV or lift the phone, we learned to talk. Smart home technology is so powerful for assisted living communities because it only requires residents to use their voice to activate a variety of benefits.
The Amazon Alexa, for example, can respond to simple voice commands to help residents…
- Turn on or off lights.
- Adjust the temperature.
- Raise or lower blinds (assuming they’re connected).
- Turn on music.
- Call for help.
- Check the weather.
- Settle a factual dispute.
Community leaders love smart home tech because it offers peace of mind to residents and families: in an emergency, residents can call for staff from anywhere in their unit. Residents love this technology because it’s easy to use and downright fun.
4. Digital Calendar
Many assisted living communities consider their activities calendar a point of pride – and often an important part of conversations with potential residents. But maintaining an activities calendar the old-fashioned way can be enormously time consuming for activities directors.
Digital calendars are an excellent solution. Software like Calendar Central can reduce the time spent on calendar management by 80 percent, thanks to smart sorting features, built-in attendance functionality, and rich reporting functionality. Digital calendars are visible to residents and staff alike, often in a variety of formats (desktop and mobile, with weekly and monthly views).
Just as important: Calendar Central makes it easy to create printed assets (e.g., event flyers) so that residents can access information via the channel they’re most comfortable with.
5. Community Engagement App
As of 2021, 45 percent of Americans 65 and older use social media, and 61 percent own a smartphone. These numbers paint a clear picture: likely residents of assisted living are becoming more and more tech savvy.
Communities can cater to this trend with a community engagement app. A kind of dedicated social media platform for an individual community, these apps make it possible for residents to look each other up, communicate, create affinity groups, and share information.
The impact on communities that embrace engagement apps is happier, more satisfied residents who are more engaged with all aspects of social life.
6. Family and Resident Messaging
Relationships are built over time, as small interactions build on each other. Without the right support technology, though, overworked staff may feel they don’t have time for personal messages to residents and family members. This is completely understandable, given today’s workloads and labor shortages – but it can also be disastrous for a community overall.
Luckily, the right technology can help. Family engagement apps make it easy for staff to send HIPAA-compliant messages (and pictures!) to family members, which builds peace of mind and fosters connection among members of the larger community (i.e., residents, staff, and family).
Community messaging apps can provide automated reminders about resident birthdays and anniversaries so that staff members are always equipped with the information they need to show residents they care.
With the right tech, regular messaging is a tiny lift for staff that can have a big impact on satisfaction and retention.
7. Emergency Communications
Of course, there are times when everyone in a community needs to receive an urgent. Technology can support here, too.
Assisted living communities must have an emergency communications solution that lets them quickly communicate simultaneously to various groups (residents, staff, families).
In the era of worsening severe weather events and ongoing disease outbreaks, emergency comms should be part of every assisted living community’s tech stack.
8. Staff Communication Solutions
Nearly every assisted living community is feeling the pinch of the labor shortage right now. And while technology can’t fully make up for a shortage of workers, it can reduce stress levels for the workers you have.
Technology that makes it easy to schedule shifts, for example, can reduce the hassle of covering shifts at the last minute. And features that remind workers about upcoming deadlines (for compliance renewals, e.g.) lets them focus their time and energy on caring for residents rather than ensuring they’re still eligible to work.
The other communication technologies we’ve mentioned so far also benefit assisted living staff, as it helps streamline communications among residents, families, and staff so that employees can spend more time providing care and less time sifting through emails.
9. Reporting Solutions
Naturally, the more digital technology you bring into your assisted living community, the more data it will generate. But where will that data live? One differentiator that sets apart the best of the best is robust analytics and reporting capabilities.
Community executives should have access to automatically generated dashboards and visualizations that turn the data created by various solutions into actionable insights. For example: which communities in a portfolio have the highest NPS? Which are seeing the highest staff turnover? Resident turnover? And how do these things relate to use of various communications systems?
The ability to visualize performance in this way can be extremely helpful when making high-level decisions about a community or portfolio.
Assisted Living Technology Should Accommodate Many Needs
Assisted living communities work best when the people involved are able to truly function as a community. And as in any community, those involved in assisted living – including residents, family, and staff – have varied needs and preferences around technology.
The best solutions, then, offer multiple ways to engage with other community members: TV, telephone, smart phone, email, text, voice app, and more.While this may sound like a big lift for communities themselves, the right software partner can – and should – facilitate communicating with multiple audiences in multiple formats. For more information on how Icon fits the bill, set up a demo.