With seven consecutive quarters of senior housing occupancy growth, it’s pretty clear that senior living is fully bouncing back. And we’re seeing communities’ investments in senior living technology follow suit.
But throwing money at the newest platform doesn’t guarantee engagement rates will increase or that resident wellbeing will improve.
We’re huge proponents of structured implementation processes. The clearer the adoption process, the greater the odds that technology will flourish. In this piece, we expand on that idea, highlight the importance of staff technology adoption, and share six ways to increase that adoption and see ROI more quickly.
1. Find the Appropriate Form(s) of Senior Living Technology
“Senior living technology” doesn’t just refer to wearable devices for older adults anymore. The market has broadened to include tech like engagement platforms for residents and families, communication tools for staff, in-room TVs, smart home devices, and more.
This is all to say: if you want to maximize adoption, you have to first make sure you’ve selected the technology that fits your needs and capabilities. Those needs could be related to improving resident wellness or making it easier for staff to oversee life enrichment events. And those capabilities involve aspects of your community like…
- Technology infrastructure. Think: WiFi network speed, available bandwidth, strong routers, etc..
- Existing tech stacks. Does this new solution integrate with systems you currently deploy? Does it fill gaps? Or does it replace part of your existing system?
- Resident tech aptitude. To approximate this, consider how many residents use mobile devices in their day-to-day or how many communicate with you via email.
Once you’ve identified a strong technology fit for your community on paper, it’s important to…
2. Deploy Pilot Programs That Involve Staff Members
Commonly, communities use pilot programs to assess a piece of technology from the resident point of view. We suggest taking this a step further: invite your teams to your pilot programs.
This is valuable even if the technology you plan to implement – a resident engagement platform, for instance – doesn’t target your staff. Why? Because staff members can evangelize the tech and help your residents grow more comfortable using it.
Remember, your caregivers develop meaningful relationships with the older adults in your community. Your staff knows residents’ likes. Their dislikes. Their preferred menu items. Their favorite life enrichment events. And if your staff understands the new piece of technology, they can demystify its adoption and address specific resident’s concerns.
3. Make It Easy to Share Feedback About the Tech
Once you’ve finished the pilot program, you’ll want to gather feedback from folks in the pilot. The key here is making it as easy as possible for those staff members and residents to offer insights. They already took the time to learn about a new digital calendar or voice assistant device. You don’t want to make this feedback stage feel too taxing or time-consuming.
To make sharing feedback a simple process, try creating opportunities in different modalities. In other words, offer a mix of digital and in-person options. You might…
- Email participants a survey that measures aspects of the technology.
- Put up tip boxes in communal spaces for participants to jot down their opinions.
- Program a small town hall for participants to openly share their thoughts.
At the end of the day, you know your residents and staff members best. Maybe you choose to deploy all three of the methods above. Maybe you do something else entirely. The main aim here is to gather as much information as you can so you’re able to make an informed decision about senior living technology.
4. Schedule Ongoing Training Sessions for Your Entire Community
If during your feedback session(s), you uncover common negative experiences, you may need to repeat steps one through three. But if all signs point to this being the right platform for you, then it’s time to plot out additional learning opportunities.
Your tech partner should have training resources and offer best practices. The best partners (*cough cough*) even come onsite for the implementation process. But a tech partner can’t cover every aspect of your ongoing training.
For this, consider who on your staff is a subject matter expert (SME) when it comes to this new tech. See if they’d be willing to offer quarterly training for fellow staff members and residents. Alternatively, if you’ve built relationships with nearby high schools or community colleges, look into whether any technology education instructors could deliver training onsite.
Another option: see if any of your residents can run the training. We recently spoke with Janice, a resident from Royal Oaks, who leads a resident tech committee that regularly hosts onboarding sessions for the senior living tech that Royal Oaks deploys.
5. Gamify Aspects of Your Adoption Process
Gamification has gained lots of traction within the training world for its ability to engage learners in novel ways. But you don’t need a learning management system (LMS) to experience the benefits of gamification. You can DIY it.
If adoption rates are low, try creating leaderboards or weekly competitions that encourage staff to learn – and regularly use – technology. Here are some ways staff could climb up that leaderboard:
- Get a resident to enroll in the solution (or use at least once a week if it doesn’t require enrollment).
- Create a new life enrichment event all on your own.
- Correctly input attendance data.
- Share your first community-wide message on the resident engagement platform.
- Directly message family members via your family engagement app.
- Successfully build or edit an emergency communication template.
To start off, it helps to tie some sort of reward to these goals. You want to incentivize your employees, after all. Once your full team has bought in, though, the competitive spirit can do a lot of the incentivizing for you.
6. Use Reporting and Analytics to Fuel Your Adoption Efforts
This may be the last step – but it’s also ongoing. Whether you’re an operator who manages 10 communities or an activities director who oversees one, you need data to support your adoption initiatives. That means, when looking for the right platform, you’ll want to prioritize technology with robust analytics and reporting features. This will help you paint a full picture of resident and staff tech adoption.
Want to see how residents from each of your senior living options (assisted living, independent living, active adult, etc.) are using your tech? Break down user data by those segments. Worried staff members aren’t using your communication tool? Review the number of sent messages since onboarding.
This data helps you focus your adoption techniques. If, for instance, newer staff members are adopting the technology less than senior staff, you might add technology Q&As to all-team meetings.
The takeaway: data helps you save time and maximize any efforts you take to increase tech adoption. And that’s valuable at every stage of your senior living technology journey.
When Employees Buy Into Your New Technology, Everyone in Your Community Benefits
We’ve highlighted the distinct value staff members bring to technology adoption in your community. They’re intermediaries between leadership and residents, and they form relationships with both groups. That’s why having staff fully behind the technology you implement is so crucial. They know how your community operates on the ground.
This is also why you want to make sure your staff members feel like stakeholders in the technology adoption process. Lean on them as experts. Ask how they’re feeling about the tech – what they’re hearing from residents. Those insights drive a ton of value when you’re implementing a change that affects everyone.Want to learn more about getting staff and residents invested in your community’s programming and technology? Check out our recent white paper: Clear Eyes, Full Attendance Sheets, Can’t Lose: A Life Enrichment Playbook from Icon. And if you want to see our technology in action, reach out for a demo!