First of its Kind Senior Living Innovation Center Opens

The 21st Century Senior Living Community is a series brought to you by CDW, a provider of technology solutions and services focused exclusively on serving the healthcare marketplace. The series takes a clear-eyed look at how leading providers and their partners are creating the next generation of senior living communities by raising the bar on services, design, and technology.

The senior care industry now has a technology showplace all of its own.

The Thrive Center—which officially opened in Louisville, Kentucky, on October 19—was established through a public-private partnership between the Commonwealth of Kentucky and Louisville Metro, as well as companies such as CDW Healthcare, Samsung, Intel, Ergotron, Lenovo and HP/Aruba. Health care stakeholders, including post-acute giant Kindred Healthcare (NYSE: KND) and major skilled nursing provider Signature HealthCare, both based in Louisville, were also involved in creating Thrive.


Thursday’s grand opening ceremony drew approximately 180 people from all over the United States, according to Ginna Baik, CDW’s strategic business development executive for senior living and long-term care. Curious passersby and industry titans alike toyed with sensors from Samsung, virtual reality headsets outfitted with AppliedVR software, and headphones from Eversound, all within a single-story, 7,500-square-foot space.

Visitors were also introduced to Samsung technologies implemented within a life-size kitchen, bathroom, living room and bedroom.


Ideally, this will become a regular sight among senior living professionals for years to come, Baik suggested to Senior Housing News.

“The Thrive Center is a meeting place of good ideas—but also a permanent place,” Baik said. “Why not see the actual products in action and come here and try some of the products?”

Innovation tipping point

Currently, the Thrive Center is showcasing how technology is transforming senior care, and it’s meant to do so more effectively than industry expos and conferences.

After all, providers tend to leave these larger meetings with a “conference high” that’s rather short-lived, according to Baik. That won’t happen at Thrive.

“Once you leave the conference, everything you learned at that conference is taken over by the daily grind of what’s going on in life,” Baik explained. At Thrive, however, visitors can test “innovative products that can be bought now that are best-in-class.”

Plus, the technologies showcased at Thrive are already extremely usable, she noted, unlike some senior care technologies that wind up being too good to be true.

“Oftentimes there are innovations that exist that are kind of futuristic,” Baik said. “Stuff that isn’t even coming to market, looks really cool… but then nobody ever buys it.”

Though Thrive is currently showcasing a wide variety of senior care technologies, including brain fitness software from Posit Science, music-as-medicine solutions from SingFit and wellness apps from EVŌ, there’s room for others to be added in the future.

“Our hope is that the announcement of the Thrive Center is going to bring a lot of new ideas and new folks that want to participate with us,” Bob Rossi, vice president at CDW, told SHN.

“This is setting up folks to really envision what that looks like,” Baik said. “I believe once that starts to happen, it will become the tipping point of innovation.”

Global epicenter for aging care

The Thrive Center is a natural fit for the Derby City, according to state and local government officials who spoke at the grand opening.

Establishments like the Thrive Center, according to Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer, will further enable Louisville to stand out as “the global epicenter for lifelong wellness and aging care.” After all, plenty of related companies already call the Kentucky town home.

“We have more companies headquartered in [Louisville] than any other city in the world as it relates to lifelong wellness and aging care,” Fischer explained. “Outsiders have validated the genius of Louisville, Kentucky.”

Plus, the aim of the Thrive Center—to ease any burdens that go hand-in-hand with getting older—is one that will remain relevant for years to come, especially given the country’s large aging demographic.

“The market for lifelong wellness and aging care is a good market to be in,” Fischer concluded.

Written by Mary Kate Nelson

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