Weighing the fi eld In the face of the onslaught of shiny tech tools, it’s easy to be swayed. But choosing technology must start with the challenge and not with the tool, Doyle says. “You have to ask, ‘What’s the problem this could solve for us?’” Investing in technology that gets out-

paced can prove costly not only fi nancially but operationally. To help avoid this, Life Care Services has an innovation council, Bushby says. The group evaluates technol- ogy products on a variety of key factors, including potential impact on residents’ health, safety, and quality of life. Integration of new technology is among

the toughest challenges communities face when adopting new solutions. Too many vendors off er solutions that are not comple- mentary with the tech infrastructure that communities already have in place, requir- ing costly capital investments. “To make effective use of these new

systems, communities must have a secure, ubiquitous, well-managed, bandwidth-rich network,” Bushby says. “This is the fi rst step to make it all possible. Without it, residents

“If a technology developer has never worked in senior living, they typically get an idea about 70 percent of the way to be ing really great,” says Julie Masiello, senior vice president of technology and marketing for Brightview Senior Living.

and staff will be dissatisfi ed, and the results will be frustrating.” Andress agrees, saying “ease of integration”

was at the top of her wishes for vendors. “I re- ally don't have any more room for technology that only does one thing,” Andress says. “If a technology developer has never

worked in senior living, they typically get an idea about 70 percent of the way to be- ing really great,” Brightview’s Masiello says. “That other 30 percent of changes and up- grades can be incredibly frustrating for a senior living provider and their residents to slog through.” Will there be smoother communication

ahead? Eclipse Senior Living CEO Kai Hsiao is frank in his assessment: “Most de- velopers of technology don’t come from the industry, therefore don’t know what we re- ally need, or how to make the interface user- friendly. The product is often created for an- other space—such as skilled nursing—and modifi ed for senior living,” he says. “You just don’t see many Silicon Valley

millennial developers hanging out at a se- nior living community seeing how caregiv- ers interact with residents, or how executive directors interact with resident families,” Hsiao says. “Until that happens, the tech- nology gap will continue.”


In recent years, residents’ options for emergency alerts have centered on Personal Emergency Response Services (PERS) devices such as pendants to reach staff and responders.

But today’s resident safety systems aren’t for emergencies alone; they may also help prevent them, through wireless smart sensors and wearables that provide information to help develop interventions.

“There are several wearable technologies available today that are comfortable to wear and keep residents safe, without interfering with their independence,” says Syed Ahmed, senior living segment leader for Philips Aging & Caregiving.

“Most are equipped with sensors to automatically send alerts to community staff if an emergency occurs. The sensors can also provide residents with other features, including step count activity tracking that allows seniors to monitor their own fi tness and activity levels.”

“Multi-purpose wearables that couple security and safety features with other benefi ts like activity tracking will help operators off er devices that strike a balance between protection and autonomy.”

Craig Bushby, director of emerging technology for Life Care Services, is also bullish on wellness wearables. Real-time location and wander management technology, he says, “has made Harry Potter’s marauder’s map come to reality.”

“By wearing a wristband or simple sticker, the location of a memory care resident can be displayed on a monitor in real- time,” Bushby says. “If the resident approaches an area of concern, an alert is sent to staff . Protecting more than safety, this system tracks behaviors and can be replayed should an investigation be needed.”

For now, Ted Doyle, vice president of marketing and communications for LCB Senior Living, says using voice tech in health emergencies remains largely redundant to PERS, but he believes it’s a promising area, particularly in fall- prevention sensors.

And new tech is helpful in community emergencies as well. “In times of bad weather or other concerning events, these systems can be used to keep families and residents updated on conditions and events in real time,” Bushby says.


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