There is a standard narrative in senior living that the community’s role is to relieve families of a caregiving burden. By assisting with basic needs and managing care, communities give family members an opportunity to be “just the daughter or son again.”
But what if that’s the wrong premise altogether? Rather than relief or rescue, families are seeking support and guidance. They want to be both a daughter and a caregiver.
It’s in that regard that senior living operators have an opportunity.
Through technology, they can increase transparency and welcome family members into the care process. And while some may hesitate, fearing this change will cause extra work for staff, the right technology can actually create newfound efficiencies.
“Our goal is to give senior living communities tools that allow families to contribute to caregiving in an unobtrusive way that respects the needs of both staff and families,” says Michelle Wright, VP of Marketing at Caavo, a platform for TV-based communication and remote TV control with a successful track record in the consumer electronics industry. “As the daughter, I can assist Dad and also take a small task off the plate of a busy staff person. Multiplied across a whole community, this starts to have a tangible impact on productivity.”
The (sometimes unexpected) value of family connection
With Caavo, operators can open the door for family members to increase their level of participation, from helping with routine matters — such as scheduling activity reminders and wellness checks — to providing social connection through video calling and photo sharing.
Caavo also allows families to gain insight into daily activities without staff assistance. Wright cites one client who uncovered a few unexpected benefits when the community started using Caavo to streamline communication with families. These benefits include:
- Less staff time spent fielding questions. Families feel more looped in, and they don’t have to wonder, or inquire, about common questions, such as whether housekeeping came or when the shuttle will take residents to the store.
- More participation in in-building services. Adult children are more aware of services, such as flu shots and podiatry appointments, and can encourage the resident to sign up. This also saves family time because they don’t have to take the resident to an appointment across town that’s already available in the building.
- More family support. Proactively letting families know about things like building maintenance allows them to engage residents more effectively. When families know what’s happening, they can answer questions from residents and help relieve anxiety.
Pulling back the curtain for family members can set a community apart. All it takes is the will, and willingness, to do things a little differently.
Why and when families want to help staff, not just vice-versa
While the risk of operators making family members believe they are walled off from their own loved ones is real, the opposite is too. Many family members feel that they put their loved one into a senior living community to provide the care they could no longer give, and it’s a rude awakening when the community calls and says that, actually, Mom needs more help beyond what the care staff can provide.
The key for operators, therefore, is knowing why and when families want to help staff, and how.
Most family members do not want to completely offload care for their loved one to a senior living community. Rather, they want to find ways to continue honoring their parents by staying involved in daily life.
Technology is a tool for accomplishing this.
“If you’re not physically there, it’s really hard to stay involved in the day-to-day,” Wright says. “With this technology, I can do meaningful things even if I’m far away. I can drop in for a video call to check in and ask my mom how she’s doing. I can send her some photos of the grandkids and make them the screensaver on her TV. If she can’t figure something out with her TV, I can do that for her too. So there are meaningful ways that I can help her that I would not have been able to do before.”
3 key ways that families can contribute to care
The key lesson here: senior living is all about balance. No family member wants to completely relinquish their ability to nurture their loved one, nor does any staff member want to micromanage every aspect of a resident’s daily life — especially at the expense of doing the types of work they most enjoy. TV-based technology helps families contribute to their loved one’s care in three big ways.
- It encourages regular visits and interactions. Even if the interactions are virtual through video calling, chat messages or sharing photos on TV, family members are grateful for the increased communication routes.
- The transparency grants family members increased peace of mind. With Caavo technology, family members can more easily see what their loved ones are doing. They can use it to confirm activities, stay in the loop, and get a real-time look into their loved one’s schedule.
- It gives family members tools to assist. TV-based communication helps families pitch in with care, from scheduling reminders that make life easier (“breakfast starts in five minutes!”) to giving them the ability to control the TV remotely so that they can make sure their loved one watches the morning news.
“I was telling someone about one of our new clients recently and she said, ‘I actually looked at that community for my mom a few years ago, and we didn’t choose it,’” Wright says. “She then added: ‘But if this technology had been there that would have changed my decision.’”
This Views article is sponsored by Caavo. To learn more about how Caavo is bringing TV-connected engagement solutions to senior living, visit caavo.com to schedule a demo, or stop by and see the technology in action in Booth 519 at the Argentum Senior Living Conference in May.
The Views Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading companies’ news, views, case studies and announcements pertinent to their organization and the industry at large. For more information on Views, please contact [email protected].