This article is sponsored by Single Digits. In this Voices Interview, Senior Housing News sits down with Jerry Grove, Vice President & General Manager, Senior Living & Multi-Family Residential, Single Digits to talk about bolstering autonomy for aging seniors by empowering them through seamless technology integration of television, phone and WiFi. He discusses the challenges and barriers to implementation, as well as how providers can overcome them, and he also explains how owners and operators can stay ahead of the technological evolution in senior living.
Senior Housing News: What career experiences do you most draw from in your role today?
Jerry Grove: I primarily draw from my experience as the CEO of Esco Technologies. We acquired the company in 2005, originally offering technology services to various commercial businesses such as phone systems, nurse call systems for hospitals, and sound systems for stadiums. After the acquisition, we shifted our focus to the senior living sector in 2007, delivering phone, TV, internet, and nurse call technology to both senior living residents and organizations nationwide. This continued until the company’s sale in 2019.
How can seamless technology be utilized to enhance the autonomy and dignity of seniors as they age, and can you cite a real-world example of technology in action?
Autonomy and dignity are the cornerstone of senior living. The concept of “dignity” left a lasting impression on me after a conversation with a client years ago. At that juncture, we were introducing or had recently developed our managed remote technology. This client managed a sizable community where they were implementing new nurse call, television, and phone services. What stood out was his statement while holding the remote: “This allows my residents to retain their dignity.”
In the context of senior living, residents enter for various reasons, often influenced by others’ decisions — whether due to the passing of a spouse or a family’s recommendation. Consequently, these transitions can make residents feel their agency is slipping away, leading to decisions made for them that may not align with their preferences. To address this, our primary goal is to facilitate as seamless a transition as possible. Can residents continue watching their favorite shows at the same time they always have? Can they operate their remote with ease? These seemingly small comforts contribute to maintaining their sense of independence.
In these scenarios, the aim is to simplify their experience, ensuring they transition smoothly from their past routines to their new senior living environment.
Additionally, we recognize the importance of the human touch. Many seniors, like my mother-in-law, rely on family members for technical assistance. But when families are miles away, can technology provide a more personalized experience? This leads us to our “technology concierge” program, which provides on-site assistance to residents with their devices, ensuring they feel empowered to make their own decisions when engaging with new technology.
As part of our commitment to this transition, preserving autonomy and dignity, we offer several services at Single Digits. Our “Find Me/Follow Me Wi-Fi” allows seamless movement between areas, avoiding the need for repetitive logins. Number portability maintains residents’ identity when moving, even across area codes. Our tech concierge program ensures personalized technology guidance, bridging the gap for those who lack close family support. Our unique “white gloves service” sets us apart during technology deployment, as we meet with each resident to ensure a smooth connection to Wi-Fi. It’s all about enabling residents to navigate their new environment confidently and independently, supported by technology and a human touch.
What are the potential challenges or barriers to implementing seamless technology solutions for seniors? How can these obstacles be overcome to ensure widespread adoption and accessibility?
Simplicity and communication are key. Opt for suitable devices that match residents’ physical capabilities, offering straightforward remote controls for those with dexterity issues. And ensure they comprehend the technology by asking questions and seeking their understanding.
When implementing any monitoring, ensure it’s unobtrusive, respecting their privacy and dignity. Seek permission and involve them in the decision-making process. Equally important is consistent support — new endeavors should be easy to grasp and follow up on, as residents must comprehend its usage. Otherwise, complexity will deter them. Lack of usage can undermine the community’s investments, potentially affecting engagement services, and engagement solutions, whether via laptops or TVs, should prioritize simplicity, ensuring residents feel comfortable with technology, guaranteeing its effective use, and reaping its benefits.
In what ways does embracing autonomy and technology help seniors to feel more connected during their life transitions?
Enabling connectivity for seniors involves simplification, ensuring even basic services like number portability ease their transition and retain connections. Offering customized TV lineups, user-friendly remotes, and even voice control can enhance their experience. Human interaction matters, and a tech concierge can make a significant difference by assisting.
Today’s engagement solutions also aid in connectivity. Single Digits’ connected life philosophy emphasizes easy internet access through smartphones and tablets, facilitating seamless transitions within the community. Additionally, utilizing a tech concierge for training on internet use can bridge the gap for residents unfamiliar with online resources, ultimately expanding their connection opportunities.
As technology continues to evolve rapidly, how can caregivers and senior care facilities stay up to date with the latest advancements and ensure that seniors benefit from the most cutting-edge solutions available?
Staying actively involved in industry associations like LeadingAge, Argentum, ASHA, and AHCA is crucial. Collaboration with technology firms that offer consultative approaches is essential due to the vast array of available tech options. Senior living providers should align with the needs of the evolving baby boomer generation and maintain strong engagement with their residents through regular group meetings to identify preferences and requirements. Participating in technology-focused sessions at industry meetings and trade shows hosted by these associations offers valuable insights and connections.
While technology can undoubtedly improve the lives of seniors, there may be concerns about potential privacy and security issues. How can seamless technology be designed and implemented to prioritize the protection of seniors’ personal data and ensure their safety in using these solutions?
It’s primarily about education and training. First and foremost, collaborate with reputable organizations that prioritize privacy policies while implementing technology in communities. Additionally, provide comprehensive education and training for residents to empower them with the knowledge to use their devices securely and prevent any unauthorized access to their personal information.
In a couple of words, finish this sentence: “In 2023, the senior living industry has been defined by…”
…a rebound from the difficult days of COVID-19.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Embrace autonomy and dignity in senior living with seamless technology! Discover how at www.singledigits.com/senior-living. Empower your senior residents to live their best lives today!
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].