This article is sponsored by Lifeline Senior Living. In this Voices interview, Senior Housing News sits down with Kim Judd, General Manager, Lifeline Senior Living, to learn about what’s on the horizon for resident safety, including a new partnership between Lifeline and Amazon. Judd also discusses the benefits of cloud-based platforms, and why they’re critical to the future of safety in senior living.
Senior Housing News: What career experiences do you draw from most, in your role today?
Kim Judd: I spent the majority of my career working as a nurse in senior living and in education. Having made the switch to the business world, I draw on this early, on-the-ground experience nearly every day. It’s an important guide in finding the right balance between the high tech and high touch demands of modern health care.
In a partnership with Amazon, Lifeline Senior Living is getting set to release its new resident safety system with voice integration. What can you tell us about it, at a high level? Both for the system and the production.
Judd: We’ve been working with Amazon to develop a voice-enabled skill that can integrate with our CarePoint Essential cloud-based resident safety system. Starting in the fall, Alexa devices will become an extension of our emergency call system as alert devices. Residents can make help requests and verbally specify what type of help they need, whether it’s help from a fall or requesting a glass of water. By adding more detailed context to alerts, staff can triage more efficiently and provide the residents what they need.
The integration with Alexa also provides residents with a social engagement capability. They’ll be able to access community menus and activity information through Alexa so they can stay more connected and engaged. Along with enjoying the many existing Alexa skills available today, such as news, weather and games, residents will receive medication reminders and be able to call family through Alexa from information accessible within our CarePoint Essential software.
It’s never easy to be the first in any aspect of our business, but the work we’ve put into this integration will have a positive impact on many residents’ lives. It gives residents and staff an unprecedented level of connectivity, allowing for greater inclusivity, communication, and responsiveness.
For any operators who have concerns about a cloud-based system, what misconceptions are most prevalent, or that you’d like to clear up?
Judd: Some operators have voiced concerns about system downtime, with respect to losing internet connection and the associated risks of information security. We have addressed these concerns by adding backup paging to our latest cloud-based resident safety system. In the very unlikely event that the cloud is out, or network connectivity fails, residents can continue using their pendants and pull cords, and staff will receive the alerts and can respond.
While failover alert systems provide a continuum of care, another benefit is that data is also constantly backed up in the cloud and secured using encryption and API protocols. Storing your data in the cloud can prevent community data loss, in case of hardware failures.
What do operators lose out on if they don’t get on board with cloud-based systems?
Judd: They can end up with a limited set of capabilities. The cloud allows for larger processing capabilities that are needed for third-party integrations and the advanced features of a modern resident safety system.
With Amazon Alexa for example, you cannot integrate Alexa voice features with on-premises systems. The cloud also enables things like enhanced locating features by processing the data needed to get accurate coordinates of a resident to help to improve response times.
Technology is constantly evolving, and there’s always the next best thing available from other technology providers. It all requires a lot of data, and there simply isn’t capacity to process it all on-premises.
In your experience, how do senior living staff members think about, and talk about, the technology that helps them do their jobs? And how does their perspective vary from leadership’s perspective?
Judd: When I was developing an app for caregivers to use for their daily reports, it became clear to me that caregivers would rather spend their time doing what they love, which is taking care of residents. They don’t want to spend time inputting data. That’s not why they signed up for this career.
Asking caregivers to work with systems that require a complex, multistep process after each resident encounter can certainly contribute to increased staff turnover. Because of that, we keep user experience top of mind.
On the other hand, operators see the value in collecting all that resident-to-staff encounter data. Operators understand that data is providing insights into resident well-being, staff utilization and financial outcomes. What we’re trying to do, through UX design, is minimize workflows for the caregiver while providing the volume of data operators need.
Large operators and small operators often seem to live in different worlds operationally. How does Lifeline work to meet the needs of both?
Judd: We don’t want to offer too many products and make it confusing for customers, but we try to encompass a range of solutions to meet the varied operator needs. We know a large sector of the industry is not connected. They don’t have the robust Wi-Fi infrastructure to deploy advanced resident safety systems. These communities are more likely to benefit from our traditional on-premises solutions or e-call systems that utilize local paging networks or mobile apps on their local Wi-Fi networks. Both options are still very viable and beneficial in non-connected communities.
On the other side of the spectrum, we see the operators with the most up-to-date network infrastructures that want the latest and greatest technological advancements. And they want them now. These are the customers that really pushed us to develop a cloud-based offering, so we could provide them with all of the features and benefits they, their residents and families are looking for.
Finish this sentence: “The top strategy that senior housing operators should employ in 2022, to best prepare for 2023, is…”?
Judd: Investing in technology. Following the pandemic, organizations realized they needed improved connectivity. Improving clinical and operational efficiency through technology is the best path forward.
The pandemic also revealed a concerning reality that without technology, social isolation and depression can become unmanageable. I think operators certainly understand better now that investment in tech is necessary for a community’s health and wellness outcomes.
Editor’s note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Lifeline provides a range of resident safety and wellness solutions for senior living communities, from traditional e-call systems to advanced resident safety platforms, thus helping communities deliver better overall resident care. To learn more about Lifeline’s senior living solutions, visit www.lifeline.com/seniorliving
The Voices Series is a sponsored content program featuring leading executives discussing trends, topics and more shaping their industry in a question-and-answer format. For more information on Voices, please contact [email protected].