Slowly but surely, senior housing operators are placing more and more emphasis on various technologies. From systems that track unit occupancy to those that manage finances, companies are starting to realize that technology plays an important role in senior housing and that various solutions will improve resident wellness and business operations.
Technology Helps Drive Engagement
Engagement (for residents, staff, and families) represents a critical area on which communities are focused. Some providers have found they can improve engagement through technology, such as the community engagement platform Touchtown.
Based in Oakmont, Pennsylvania, Touchtown’s suite of engagement products are found in more than 1,200 senior living communities in North America.
“A major source of our inspiration and innovation is – our customers – both seniors and staff,” Touchtown’s CEO Ted Teele says. “We want to make engagement easy. We spend a lot of time requesting feedback and testing our products with seniors and staff in many of our communities.”
Longwood at Oakmont has seen these benefits firsthand. The continuing care retirement community (CCRC) partnered with Touchtown to create the MyLAO application.
Available on tablets, smartphones, computers and on interactive kiosks around the community, MyLAO is a customizable, interactive app that allows residents to look up information about Longwood right at their fingertips. Through MyLAO they can browse the dining menu and it even contains links to the weather, work order requests, fitness videos, and committee meeting minutes.
Current resident Janis Ramey, who has been living at Longwood for two years, says MyLAO offers something for every resident. But such information wasn’t always readily available when Ramey, who worked as a technical writer, first moved in.
“I couldn’t believe I couldn’t look at the dining menus online,” Ramey says.
When Ramey heard Longwood would be working with Touchtown to implement MyLAO, Ramey volunteered to participate in a beta program. Now, she is on a committee to help further grow MyLAO.
A recent feature Ramey and the committee worked to implement in MyLAO is called Administrative Kudos. It allows residents to leave positive feedback about individual staff members. Those comments are then passed along to the appropriate department head. This feature is one example of how communities are boosting engagement between residents and staff, while also rewarding staff members who go above and beyond their jobs.
Another feature Ramey is helping to implement resembles Craigslist. It will allow Longwood residents to buy and sell goods to other residents.
On a larger scale, MyLAO has played a part in exposing residents to other technologies and services. In her position, Ramey and other committee members offer technical support to Longwood residents once a week, and oftentimes, residents ask a variety of technology questions such as how to download photographs their grandchildren sent as one example.
“If they can be convinced to try [MyLAO], they love it,” says Ramey. “There are people who are way into their 90s who are in love with it.”
Operators realize the need to equip their communities with new technologies, but hurdles often exist, such as implementation, training and actually getting residents to use the products.
But in actuality, implementation and training aren’t as difficult as one might believe. Communities must first realize they can’t force residents to use new technology offerings. Instead, they should be presented with a range of interactive and non-interactive products.
“The best thing providers can do is provide residents with options; so they feel in control of how they access information,” says Teele.
When it comes to implementation and training, operators should seek partnerships with companies that provide interactive training workshops, step-by-step videos and live chat.
Companies like Touchtown understand turnover is currently a big challenge for providers, which is why the software is designed to help easily onboard new staff members, says Mark Totten, Touchtown’s Manager of Learning Development. Touchtown has an entire Customer Success team that is dedicated to helping customers get the most out of their technology.
New technologies may seem scary, but partnering with companies like Touchtown ensure smooth implementation of services that will help increase resident wellness, boost occupancy and improve staff communication.
What are your technology goals for 2018? Contact Touchtown at 1-866-868-2486 to brainstorm about your goals and learn how Touchtown’s solutions can help.