Maplewood’s Manhattan Highrise To Be Proving Ground For Cutting-Edge Tech Suite

Technology will play a key role when Maplewood Senior Living’s Inspir Carnegie Hill community opens on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

The $300 million luxury-focused community will bring with it a comprehensive technology suite designed to enhance the resident experience and make operations more efficient. The suite — which is called Alli — will include smart-home tech such as Amazon’s Alexa, virtual reality and fall-detection capabilities.

To learn more about how Westport, Connecticut-based Maplewood sees technology fitting into Inspir — as well as its 13 other communities in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Ohio — Senior Housing News caught up with Brian Geyser, chief clinical officer for the Inspir brand and Maplewood’s vice president of clinical innovation and population health.

Geyser joined Maplewood in 2017, and recently sat down for an interview with the SHN Transform podcast. Highlights of that conversation are below, edited for length and clarity. Check out the complete episode on Soundcloud, Apple iTunes or Google Play.

The following interview was edited for length and clarity:

On Maplewood’s recent technology investments:

Geyser: One of the things that I have done since I got here is to help bring Maplewood into the next generation with tech around how we impact residents’ lives. We have made a significant investment in our infrastructure — the technology backbone with wi-fi and all of that — to make sure we can support all of these new devices that are going to be on our network.

We’re really interested in IoT [the internet of things] and bringing smart apartment technology to play. We’re working with Amazon and other companies to really nail down how we deliver voice-enabled technology to this specific population. We do assisted living and memory care, and in New York City we’ll also be doing advanced care. So, that’s care of folks who have more complex needs.

We really need to figure out how to take out a consumer-based product like Alexa and modify it so that it actually delivers results for this particular population, their families and for our staff, frankly.

And then a huge focus for us is on connectivity. We want to connect the residents to the outside world, to their families. We want to connect residents to staff, and staff to residents.

So, we’re looking at all different manner of technologies that do that, but with a huge focus on integration and the capability of these things to talk to each other.

On how Amazon Alexa voice technology will be integrated in Inspir:

Alexa will be an extension of our concierge service. A resident can say, “Alexa, call the concierge,” 24/7, and they will have access to our concierge, right through the speaker. Whatever the resident needs, we’ll attend to that.

We’re working with some companies on enabling artificial intelligence through Alexa [and] having Alexa understand our residents’ intent.

So, when a resident has a specific need, they can tell Alexa that need, and then she will understand what the need is and route that to the appropriate member of the care team or to the appropriate department. An example of that is saying something like, Alexa, my light is broken in my bathroom. That will be routed around the care team and right to the maintenance team.

Right now, in most assisted living communities, it’s the call pendant that gets pressed for whatever it is that a resident needs, and that notification goes to the care team. And then a care team member has to respond to that need.

That is problematic on many levels, obviously, for efficiency’s sake. Staff did not go to nursing school or CNA school to learn how to fix a lamp. They really want to be laser-focused on resident care. So, to be able to use Alexa as that virtual assistant, if you will, residents [will] have faster access to information, to staff when they need it, and to the right staff, when they need it.

Residents will be able to ask Alexa what’s on the calendar, what’s on the menu today, what are my notifications for the day, and then all of the other typical Alexa-type features, like play my favorite playlist or radio station, turn off the lights, turn up the temperature, and all of that.

The ability for residents to use voice to access staff is really critical. When that happens, when a resident says, Alexa, I need my care team because my arm hurts, that notification will go to the care team, it comes up on the resident’s phone as a text notification. It says specifically what the resident said. That way, we can prioritize getting to that resident. And then we can say, Jane, I’ll be right there, don’t move, I’ll be there in 30 seconds. That ability to connect is really critical for us and we’re excited to be using Alexa and other technologies to do that.

On what the Alli tech suite is:

We have accumulated a variety of different technologies over the course of the past couple of years that affect residents and families in positive ways. And we’ve decided to take those various pieces, bring them together, and give it a name.

For Inspir, we’re calling it Alli.

The reason we call it that is because we see technology as that. It’s an accompaniment. It’s an adjunct. It’s not taking the place of human contact whatsoever, but it’s augmenting and enhancing what we’re already doing on the human side. So, the technology is our ally, and we have a variety of different technologies in that suite. Everything from virtual reality to Alexa-enabled care concierge to digital interactive programs, livestreaming adult education programming.

That’s really what it’s about. And, really, when a product makes it into the Alli suite, we have tested it, we feel that it’s beneficial, and it integrates into the whole Inspir mission.

On Maplewood’s commitment to virtual reality:

About a year and a half ago, we made the decision to bring in VR across our entire portfolio and add it to our lifestyle platform.

What we’re doing with it now is we’re using it both for sheer entertainment purposes, because it’s just really awesome, but then we’re also using it on a therapeutic level, for people with dementia doing reminiscence therapy.

We find, for the most part, that residents really enjoy the product. For people with memory impairment, we can strategically decide, on a resident-by-resident basis, who might have a good experience with that particular technology. We can bring people back to the university that they graduated from, or their elementary school, or to places they traveled throughout their life.

We find it sparks memories in a really enhanced way. It’s far beyond what we have ever seen just using traditional photo albums.

We’ve also been experimenting with using VR on the therapy side of things, for physical therapy, in particular. You can go into a virtual world and you’re brought to a place where, just through the sheer experience of it, you’re moving around. You’re working on core strength and flexibility and range of motion, without even realizing you’re doing that.

A lot of residents don’t really enjoy physical therapy, but this makes it fun and enjoyable, and in some cases they’re not even aware they’re in a physical therapy session.

On coming tech trends:

The obvious one is voice and IoT. But I think beyond that, the one place that has amazing promise is passive monitoring technology.

Wearables and systems you can put into the apartment that can very passively monitor a resident’s health status, I think this is very exciting. It’s very new, and we’re right in the beginning of that kind of technology coming to play.

We are watching, very closely, this space develop. We would get into this space right now if we felt that it was something that was evolved enough to really make an impact. The example of that is a resident in their own apartment, it’s their private space. The only way that we know that resident is okay behind those doors is if we knock on the door and ask to come in.

Now, imagine a future where the room, the apartment itself, tells us that the resident is okay because it senses the resident’s respiration rate and pulse rate. And it knows the resident is there. It knows the resident is not on the floor in pain. And this can be done right now through passive monitoring technologies.

I see a future where the apartment itself, perhaps robotics, artificial intelligence, can help us know that a resident is all right. And when a resident is not, the resident won’t even necessarily have to tell us that. The apartment itself will tell us that. The pulse rate will skyrocket or some change in vital signs will occur, telling us that it’s out of the norm for this particular person. I think that’s a really exciting space and I’m looking forward to companies that can solve that problem in our industry.

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