Maybe more of your residents have been complaining about the slow wifi. Or your staff is fed up with your scheduling system. Or you’re tired of reprinting paper events calendars every time something changes.
Whatever the case, you know your community needs a tech upgrade. But where do you start? Here, we’ll highlight four types of technology that make up the bulk of the senior living landscape and what you need to know about each as you start your buyer’s journey.
1. Community Engagement Solutions
The primary purpose of community engagement technology is to connect residents with each other and with what’s going on in their community.
And while many senior living operators plan to invest in tools that fall under the community engagement umbrella this year – 61 percent of them – “community engagement” is still a fairly broad category. Here are the four core components to be aware of.
Community engagement platforms
Community engagement platforms are portals that residents use to view activity calendars, make dining reservations, sign up for community events, organize activities, and much more.
In other words, if anything directly impacts your residents, a community engagement platform is where you probably want to house that information.
Put simply, the best community engagement platforms make it easy for residents to see, in seconds, what’s going on in their community on any given day. This is often why engagement platforms act as hubs that other engagement technologies can integrate with and branch off from.
Smart voice devices
Smart voice devices offer greater accessibility and hands-free convenience to residents who want to know what’s going on in their community. A simple “Hey, Alexa…” prompt lets residents hear about everything from the soup of the day to whether the mail has been delivered.
Plus, because these smart voice devices readily integrate with other technology systems, residents can also use them to, say, turn off the lights in their unit or lower the blinds. This has the added benefit of improving life for residents with visual or mobile impairments. A voice command to turn off the fan means residents don’t need to get up and do it themselves. And asking Alexa to, say, read out the day’s menu items means residents don’t need to squint at their phone or a printout.
Digital displays and in-room TVs
Like smart voice devices, digital displays broadcast information to your residents without requiring them to log on to any platforms or applications. Staff members program what the displays show, whether it’s activity calendars, daily menus, or live streams of community activities, like choir rehearsals and concerts.
In-room TVs operate similarly to digital displays, except the community content feeds into residents’ own personal TVs. So if they want to see activity calendars or live-streamed choir concerts in their own residence, they can. But they can also use their TV to broadcast on-demand fitness content or just watch the news.
Form builders, as the name implies, make it easy for staff to create forms related to resident activities (transportation requests, leave of absence notices, satisfaction surveys, etc.). And because this technology also stores every form and every response, it helps staff more quickly organize and distill important information while eliminating paper storage, filing, and printing.
2. Resident Life Management Software
It’s not easy to manage a community’s life enrichment programming. After all, you’re not just coming up with inventive and engaging ideas. You’re also tasked with promoting the events and ensuring they’re easy for residents to join.
This is where resident life management software comes in. With tools like digital calendars, life enrichment staff can reduce time spent on calendar management by 80 percent. That’s because this software centralizes everything staff may need to know before, during, and after an event.
Not sure if a room is available? Don’t know whether residents liked a similar event in the past? Want to see how many people attended your event? All of those insights – and more – live in the resident life management software program. And with features like enterprise reporting (coming soon) community leaders will be able to see all of these insights, from every community, in the same spot.
Plus, with other tools like our PressPrint, you can easily upload your own digital calendars and have us print them out and deliver them to you promptly. It’s a great way to ensure that even the most tech-averse of your residents can stay in the loop and stay engaged with your life enrichment program.
3. Communication Tools
This category of senior living technology has one primary function: share time-sensitive information with staff, residents, and families.
Ever need to fill last-minute shift openings? Notify your whole staff about an impending training deadline? How about sending appointment reminders to residents and their family members?
Communication solutions (like our own Bi-Directional Communication Tool) make these messages easy for staff to send and for recipients to notice. The reason: this senior living technology lets you share messages across text, email, phone call, and Alexa-enabled devices.
So if you have a community-wide emergency – like a flu outbreak – you can send a quarantine message to all four channels.
The idea behind communication tools is simple: make sure your intended audience sees the right message at the right time in the right place. Don’t leave anything to chance. If it’s an important message, it’s one worth sending with an omnichannel communication tool.
4. Family Engagement Platforms
In many ways, community and family engagement platforms are similar. They’re both portals that users can access from a browser or mobile app. And they both broadcast community activities and announcements.
But there are differences. For instance, family engagement platforms prioritize offering visibility into the community. That’s why the best family engagement platforms give family members a direct line of communication with staff via a HIPAA-compliant messaging system.
Let’s say you recently helped a grandparent move into a community, and you want to know how they’re acclimating. You log on to the family engagement portal and see that you’ve gotten a message. (Or maybe, you’ve received a push notification.) You click on your inbox. A staff member just sent you a picture of your grandparent at a new member mixer with the caption “Lots of laughs already!” A wave of relief washes over you. That’s the benefit of family engagement platforms. They give families peace of mind.
Some family engagement platforms even let staff upload photos, messages, and documents to the portal’s homepage. Where messaging is reserved for private conversations between a family and staff, the engagement platform’s homepage shares information that every family member in the community’s network can see. Think: invitations to holiday brunches or updates on rec center renovations.
You’re Not Just Finding the Right Senior Living Technology – You’re Finding the Right Partner
When searching for a senior living tech solution, it’s important to consider factors beyond the tech itself. For instance…
- Does your network have the bandwidth to comfortably host engagement solutions?
- How mature is your existing tech stack?
- Do you have buy-in from your staff members?
- Do your residents want new technology?
- Have you developed a clear, structured implementation process?
Perhaps most importantly, though: is your technology vendor also a partner?
You have hundreds – even thousands – of other people who will rely on your new senior living technology to get updates on the community. The last thing you want is to feel left in the dark once you’ve signed on the dotted line. Trusted technology partners don’t just offer the right technology; they provide all the guidance you need to deploy that technology effectively.Want to learn more about the senior living technology options Icon has to offer? Need some assistance finding the right technology for your community? Drop us a line. We’d love to help!
Icon is hosting a webinar on April 24th, 2023 at 1 PM CST: sharing tips on How to Build Your Ideal Resident Engagement Tech Stack. We would love for you to join us.