Benchmark Brings Hospitality Tech to Latest Community Launch

Benchmark Senior Living is keeping a keen eye towards the future of healthcare delivery by outfitting its newest—and 50th community to date—with a slew of new technologies.

The Wellesley, Massachusetts-based company is using technology to take a multi-faceted approach to the way it cares for residents and improves efficiencies at its newest community, Benchmark Senior Living at Split Rock in Shelton, Connecticut. The approach involves arming staff with handheld devices and trading walkie-talkies for bluetooth earpieces, among other technologies.

With construction costs running at $25 million, Benchmark invested approximately $800,000 on the new tech offerings at the 92-apartment Split Rock community, says Allison Guthertz, vice president of quality resident services.

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Unique to the Split Rock community relative to other Benchmark properties, a real-time locating system from Stanley Healthcare allows Benchmark personnel to observe where residents are at any given time throughout the property, inside as well as on the exterior grounds.

The system leverages the community’s Wi-Fi network, relaying residents’ positions via devices that can be worn either as lanyards or around the wrist in watch-like form. Signals from the devices relay to a computer as well as iTouch devices provided to each member of the community’s staff, from housekeeping to dining personnel, notifying them of a resident’s location throughout the campus.

Resident-worn devices also enable them to contact Benchmark staff if they require assistance, such as in the event of an emergency. In these cases, knowing the exact location of a resident becomes critical for not only identifying where the incident has occurred, but also for the rapidity of response time, Guthertz says.

Aside from identifying response times, the location system can also generate reports that detail changes in resident behaviors, like wandering, which helps Benchmark begin a discussion with residents, their families and physicians about the possible change in the individual’s medical condition.

“It’s not so much about direct care as it is about the whole community being able to communicate with each other,” Guthertz says.

Not only does the community have the ability to communicate internally, it can also interface with other healthcare providers such as physicians and home health agencies, especially as tablet-enabled technologies become more prevalent in medical documentation.

“The reality is, because of the future of senior living and healthcare, we needed to make this investment to have good partnerships and good resident outcomes,” Guthertz says.

Future sustainability was top of mind when developing Benchmark at Split Rock, not only for boosting the internal community’s tech offerings, but also for minimizing the building’s environmental impact.

The community expects to achieve a Gold-level certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) designation, a ratings system for the design, construction, operation and maintenance of green buildings.

Benchmark Senior Living at Split Rock, which opened May 19, is currently 50% leased.

Written by Jason Oliva