Senior living technology bundled with innovative services can help create virtual memory care environments in communities where higher levels of care have already reached capacity, said technology services provider Healthsense in a Tuesday webinar.
Communities whose assisted living and memory care units are full can use a combination of a “blizzard” of emerging technology systems and services to provide cognitive-oriented care in flexible environments, decreasing turnover and helping residents stay independent.
“It’s very prevalent for us to talk to providers who are full at the higher ends of their care continuum, [who have] individuals at a lower stage who would love to maintain their independence,” said Bryan Fuhr, co-founder of Healthsense and vice president of marketing and business development.
However, it can become challenging for some senior living providers to address the care needs of people living in their communities, he said, referencing the Frontline/ProPublica series that highlighted some cases where the needs of memory-impaired assisted living residents were not, it alleged, fully met.
“Your memory care [wing] is likely full, with the prevalence of [early stage cognitive impairments],” Fuhr said. “No individual or family member really is wanting their loved one, or themselves, to end up in a secured memory care environment.”
Many communities are caring for higher acuity residents throughout the continuum while facing a future shortage of caregivers. This is true even in independent living, where 45% of residents had a “limiting condition” in 2012, up from 28% in 2001, according to data from the American Seniors Housing Association.
Technology can be a solution, Fuhr said, as providers can use innovative services bundled with technology to help point care staff toward certain individuals when they’re in a risk behavior situation, or about to be in that type of situation.
With a virtual memory care system, monitoring platforms can push alerts to staff so they can redirect individuals in the event of nighttime wandering or other irregular behavior, or send reminders to residents to help them remember to do certain activities that can sustain independence. Additionally, trending data reports could indicate emerging changes in health status.
When Healthsense’s eNeighbor remote monitoring product was installed in one community whose assisted living and memory care units were full, it produced some immediate results. The system noticed one independent living resident’s restless sleeping patterns and a lack of eating activity, then communicated that information to the community’s care team, resulting in a consultation with the resident’s primary care physician.
Complications of diabetes were then identified along with memory impairment, and armed with that knowledge, a care plan was put together using bundled technology and services that enabled the resident to remain in independent living for three additional years.
Not only can these sorts of systems increase the time residents stay at their preferred level of care, Fuhr concluded, but they can also increase revenue from units as incremental services are delivered. Additionally, they allow for flexible care spaces in a community.
“Individuals can age in place in an ‘independent living’ apartment in [congregate] housing with services,” he said, “and with technology and innovative services deployed to any apartment in that building, it can turn any apartment into a virtual memory care setting.”
Written by Alyssa Gerace