Technology will be the key driver for senior living providers looking to reposition their communities in the future, those going through the process say. Reliance on technology as a differentiator will become increasingly important as they strive to meet the sophisticated demands of the Baby Boomers, according to senior living executives gathered Thursday at the CXO Long-Term Care Summit in Las Vegas.
Executives agreed that technology will be a pivotal factor not so much for seniors, but for the decision-making children who ultimately choose a senior living community for their parents.
“Technology is going to play a huge role over the next few years, especially as it relates to a demand for a better customer experience and quicker turnaround in communication with residents and family members,” said Chris Hyatt, chief operating officer at Emeritus Senior Living.
While tech looks to play an integral role in repositioning an existing property, Hyatt warns there are several caveats that can vary depending on the market, product type, size and scope of the project. Communities must also be cautious to not push technology onto their residents, he added, but instead leave technology out there for them to use if they want to.
Evangelical Homes of Michigan launched a web-based tech program in several of its communities as part of its repositioning strategy. The program, according to company President and CEO Denise Rabidoux, allows families to order services for their residents from their smartphones.
“If you want mom to be at your house for a party, we can help by providing the transportation and even the chef for you,” Rabidoux said.
The company also equips residents of its sub-acute/post-acute rehab unit with what Rabidoux called a “junk drive,” which lets the company’s lifestyle and wellness coaches remotely reach residents via smartphone.
“Boomers are looking for vital aging, such as health and wellness programs and things that make their parents vital,” said Chuck McGlade, MD, founder and CEO of Ridgeline Management Company. “Their decisions are going to influence what we offer.”
McGlade sees technologies that emphasize brain vitality becoming more important for communities.
“I see more brain games and other fitness well-being programs geared towards maintaining vitality becoming popular,” he said.
Technology can be a beneficial strategy to reposition communities that were built decades ago, as it can help not only lure more prospective residents, but also retain staff.
“Change is difficult, but inevitable,” said Donna Kelsey, president of Revera Health System. “SNFs are at a changing point, most of our physical plants are at least 20 years old.”
A key objective when repositioning, she added, is creating a physical plant that not only empowers residents living there but also making the facility a place where employees want to work.
“We’re on the cusp of change and need to figure out what you can renovate to make it useful,” Kelsey said.
Written by Jason Oliva