The senior living paradigm has shifted. Just five years ago, engagement platforms were viewed as helpful – not necessarily essential. AI-driven communication tools were mentioned in the same breath as lofty technologies like medication-dispensing robots. Voice assistant devices, like Echo Dots, were premium add-ons.
Cut to today and these solutions aren’t just beneficial to a community’s day-to-day operations. They’re often integral. But finding the right forms of technology for your community – and ensuring they meet the needs of your residents, families, and staff – takes time. And that’s to be expected. These solutions change the lives and routines of people who use them.
Keep reading to learn how Ohio-based Westerwood Senior Living, and its Executive Director Lisa Burkhart, methodically built a senior living tech stack that enriches the aging experience.
The Problem: Insufficient Tech Left Residents, Staff, and Families Disengaged
Like many senior living communities prior to 2020, Westerwood Senior Living dabbled with different forms of technology, Lisa explained. Admin staff occasionally relied on email schedulers. The larger community used TELS to manage maintenance requests and other operational needs. And there were other communication tools that helped simplify and organize community-wide messages.
But there wasn’t a concerted effort to unify these systems under one umbrella – or to expand Westerwood’s digital footprint. And that meant certain time-consuming processes, like staff calling individual residents to share announcements over hours-long call blocks, were just par for the course.
That status quo changed. In 2020, Westerwood leadership knew they needed to make technology a strategic focus. The existing tech stack couldn’t keep community members engaged. Staff, residents, and families needed a system that tethered them together.
One point of consensus that came out of these discussions: Westerwood needed an engagement solution. Though their communication tool ticked some boxes on the staff side, it couldn’t replicate the benefits of a dedicated engagement platform. That priority is what led them to Icon.
The Solution: Scalable Senior Living Technology with a Dedicated Support Team
In the technology buying process, product specs are just one part of the equation. You also need to feel comfortable with the tech vendor’s team – their success coordinators, salespeople, and support staff. That’s what ultimately drew Lisa and other members of the Westerwood team to Icon. They felt like partners.
This partnership was especially important because Westerwood had specific needs they needed their tech provider to accommodate. Icon let Lisa and other team members gradually implement technology. “We didn’t have to buy everything at once,” Lisa said.
This measured approach to technology implementation also extended to onboarding support. “Our Icon success coordinator was patient with our questions, demos, everything,” Lisa said. “She led the training sessions and – people say this a lot but she meant it – let us know to call, text, or email if we had any questions. That was above and beyond.”
A positive result of this ongoing training: everyone from residents to Activity Directors knew what the new tools did and had resources available to learn more. This well-structured adoption also helped develop what Lisa refers to as “Icon champions” – residents who enjoy(ed) testing out and evangelizing new forms of senior living tech.
That resident buy-in paid dividends when it came to using and benefitting from Icon’s solutions. What’s more, the enthusiasm of early champions was crucial to getting other residents on board, especially those who were less comfortable with tech.
The Result: Faster Messaging, Higher Engagement Rates, and a More Enriching Senior Living Experience
Life at Westerwood has changed for the better since adopting Icon.
Staff can now set up recurring messages – like birthday announcements – and even use communication tools to auto-populate templated messages. Plus, staff can easily segment messages by audience (residents, family, and staff) and share those messages over various channels, like text, email, phone call, and Alexa-enabled devices. This makes sending and seeing community messages a more convenient process for everyone.
While certain aspects of legacy practices are still in place – like paper handouts – Lisa and other Westerwood team members are continuing to showcase the power of senior living technology. And residents are growing more and more invested.
Today, residents primarily rely on the community engagement solution for…
- Dining services. Now, residents can quickly see what’s on the menu for a given day. Plus, they can also directly contact staff members, with the messaging hub, if they have any questions about a particular meal.
- Meeting other residents. Icon’s resident directory lets members set up profiles (like Facebook) and find other residents who may share similar interests. This helps empower residents to take control of their own social lives.
- Finding and RSVPing to events. Residents can review the community’s activities calendar and reserve spots for certain events. They can also schedule and broadcast events of their own.
- Maintenance work orders. Since Icon integrated with the TELS platform, a move that corresponded with Westerwood’s need, residents can quickly file work orders, track their progress, and message technicians.
Engagement isn’t limited to residents, though. Westerwood adopted the Family Engagement platform to help keep loved ones in the loop. This was especially appreciated in 2020, Lisa noted. “We got a lot of compliments on how we were keeping everyone involved.”
But what does the data say about all this change? Has engagement increased? Since adopting Icon, engagement rates have exceeded the benchmarks Westerwood set, and an impressive 98.9 percent of residents use the communication platform and 53 percent engage with Icon on a daily basis. “We’re certainly getting our money’s worth,” Lisa joked.
What’s Next for Westerwood: More Training and More Senior Living Technology
With usage rates as high as they are, Lisa and her team feel comfortable trying new programs and initiatives. Case in point: Westerwood recently rolled out Icon’s Community Voice solution, and it’s “something we’re still figuring out,” Lisa said. “Some residents are using it; others aren’t.”
But like Westerwood’s approach to adding and adopting technology over the past several years, the name of the game here is patience and ongoing support. That style has clearly paid off. Families feel more connected to Westerwood. Residents know even more about their community. And staff members are regularly saving time, which lets them focus more of their energy on improving the senior living experience.Interested in seeing what difference Icon can make for your community? Shoot us a message, or book a demo!