Amazon Announces Contest to Develop Alexa Skills for Senior Living Communities

Technology and retail giant Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) is planning a new contest for developing new Alexa skills for the senior living industry.

The company is putting forward more than $45,000 in prizes for developers who can build new Alexa skills with functions that can aid older adults and senior living communities. Kelly Wenzel, director of B2B Marketing and Developer Engagement for Alexa, announced the contest during the company’s Alexa Live event on Wednesday.

“We are inviting all developers, designers and tech-for-good enthusiasts to build Alexa experiences for the age 55-plus population,” Wenzel said during the event Wednesday. “This is your opportunity to build delightful Alexa skills for this large and diverse older adult cohort and compete for more than $45,000 in prizes.”


She added that Amazon will soon share more information about the contest on the company’s developer portal.

Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices, such as Echo, have taken the senior living world by storm since operators first began experimenting with it in recent years. Many senior living operators currently support devices that use Alexa for functions ranging from resident calls to family or friends to calling for assistance, and residents themselves are bringing such devices with them when they move into senior living communities. Operators also access Alexa through existing partnerships with technology firms such as Aiva or K4Connect.

Since its first forays into the health care sector several years ago, Amazon has represented a potential disruptor for the senior living industry. And the company’s recent moves suggest it plans to continue that course of action in the future.


Today, the company’s clients and partners in senior living include Atria Senior Living. The operator last year began deploying Echo devices using the Alexa Smart Properties offering, which supports Alexa-enabled tech in various types of real estate such as senior living, office buildings, hotels and multifamily properties.

Other examples include operator Eskaton, which has deployed more than 1,000 Amazon Echo devices across nine of its communities. Through the use of Alexa, the operator has reported an increase in staff efficiency and in resident independence and happiness.

Amazon highlighted a recent study of Alexa’s effect on older adults’ lives from Eskaton and the University of California, which found that 80% of those using the function in their communities felt more connected to family and friends.

By using Amazon’s Alexa Smart Properties in its memory care operations, The Forum at Rancho San Antonio, a community managed by Life Care Services, was able to save staffers about 30 minutes of time per day, which Amazon noted improved employee retention by 38.5% and increased resident happiness.

Another example lies in Carlton Senior Living, which uses the Speak2 platform built on Alexa Smart Properties. Nearly a third of the operator’s staff said Speak2 makes it easier for residents to obtain information, while 46% of the operator’s associates said it allows residents to speak directly with various departments. Overall, the operator has reduced staff time spent on resident requests by 30%, according to Amazon.

Amazon also linked up with St. Louis-based health system Ascension last year to launch a new home-based care policy alliance called Moving Health Home, which has a stated goal of “working to change federal and state policy to enable the home to be a clinical site of care,” according to its website.

Founding members of that effort included Amazon Care, Landmark Health, Signify Health, Dispatch Health, Elara Caring, Intermountain Healthcare, Home Instead and Ascension.

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