In December, approximately 20,000 Atria Senior Living residents received a boxed set of 150 conversation cards and instructions to download a free iPhone app.
The hope of the Atria staff who created this 2017 holiday gift was simple: to foster conversations between residents and their family members, or between residents and staff, which may otherwise not be easily had.
The project shows how senior living can get on board with the trend of mobile apps, using that to drive resident engagement, staff satisfaction, and the public’s awareness of the brand.
Connecting through conversation
The Louisville, Kentucky-based provider originally created its signature events and activities program, Engage Life, to help ensure that residents’ experiences comprised “more than just bingo, Bible study and birthday parties,” Ronda Watson, Atria’s vice president of culinary and Engage Life, told Senior Housing News.
The boxed set of conversation cards and the related iPhone app—together called “Atria StoryWise”—were developed as a part of Engage Life, as well as to promote Atria’s overarching philosophy of connecting people.
“We know storytelling starts with eye-to-eye, face-to-face contact,” Watson said. “But we also know that there are family members across the country who can’t be there face-to-face.”
Currently, the box contains 150 conversation starters, and the app contains another 150 questions. Atria residents can use the physical conversation cards to spark conversations with one another, or with staff members they’d like to get to know better—or they can upload videos of themselves answering the questions using the iPhone app. Their family members can easily download the same app, view their loved ones’ videos, and upload their own responses to the same questions.
Eventually, there will also be a library of content that anyone who has downloaded the app can view for free.
On January 11, for instance, Atria communities around the country hosted local celebrities, famous authors, and religious figures, who picked different cards out of the StoryWise box and shared stories with residents. These stories were recorded, and uploaded as videos onto the iPhone app.
Atria put in a great deal of time and effort to create StoryWise.
“We have an amazing team of creative folks—60 people, give or take—that were coming up with as many possible questions that would evoke memories, laughter,” Watson said. “It was a labor of love, that’s for sure.”
Atria staff are enjoying StoryWise just as much as Atria residents, according to Watson.
“They are loving it,” Watson said. “They love that it is an opportunity for them to get to know a resident in a different way.”
Plus, it’s unlikely that residents will ever run out of questions to ask one another, as Atria plans to constantly add new topics to the app.
“We have the ability to add questions as we want to,” Watson said. “It’s something that’s so organic.”
To help guarantee that newer Atria residents don’t feel left out of the fun, the provider is gifting StoryWise to every new person who moves in this year.
“We’ve planned so that every new resident that we get in 2018 will get a copy of this as part of their move-in process,” Watson explained.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson