As the rise of the pandemic took place, so did the rise in senior living technology. This shift may not have been a surprise given the need for connectivity among isolated residents during the height of the pandemic, but what many operators did not realize was how strongly it would affect community operations — led by trends around resident adoption, the rise of new tech-related roles and responsibilities, and planning for the unknown, including budgeting for future investment.
The shift has resulted in three key trends, driving investment decisions for 2022 and beyond.
Technology Urgency for Residents
Residents have always used technology, but never before was the need so critical as when many went into isolation to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“With older adults staying in their rooms and apartments to lower COVID-19 infections, providers invested in solutions that provided video calling capabilities,” says Jessica Longly, business development strategist at CDW Healthcare. “Providers also focused on technologies that encouraged resident engagement and connection.”
Communication was still just as necessary for these individuals but the element of directly speaking to someone in person became a lot more challenging. With new advancements in technology came more questions and concerns around the use of these devices.
Tech Support and Innovation Councils
With limited in-person interaction to stop the spread of the virus, older individuals relied on technology to speak to their family, friends, and even doctors for medical advice. Though technology was quickly transforming the world of communication, caregivers in facilities with older people also played a large role at this time. Assisting the older generation on how to use these products became a priority, but it was a question of who would be the ones helping them.
At the same time, operators have had to ensure technology does not not take the place of person-centered care, Longly says.
“I believe that technology is here to serve two functions: Streamline existing caregiver workflows and allow residents to maintain their independence for as long as safely possible,” she says.
For the older generation who didn’t grow up using it, technology doesn’t always come naturally. Operators have long observed residents engaging with technology, but many of the new products require more in-person instruction. By implementing a tech concierge,” many communities were able to provide support to less tech-savvy residents.
“The tech concierge sets up an appointment to help the resident set up their technology devices, answer any questions they may have about the community, and be a trusted resource they can depend on for future needs,” Longly says.
The role of the tech concierge can also offer a figurehead for community collaboration on technology including resident councils who can brainstorm ideas and solve any technology issues. These councils allow for individuals to consult, strategically plan, and make decisions with resident input being the key driver of these plans.
Planning Budgets Around Unknowns
The technology market surge also brings new ideas for these communities. More business means more expense but it remains up to the leadership to decide where to invest.
“Deciding what technology to invest in can be confusing,” says Liz Cramer, Chief Post-Acute Care Strategist for CDW Healthcare.
A few factors to consider are :
- How will this help my staff be more efficient when providing care?
- Will this particular solution have a positive impact on my residents and their quality of life?
- How will this technology impact my facility/campus outcomes and or quality measures?
Despite many conflicting priorities relative to the unknown, most agree expanded budgets will continue and adequate infrastructure will be critical to future technology adoption.
“The organizations making key infrastructure investments right now will have an easier time implementing new and innovative technologies,” Longly says. “It will be even more important as organizations strive to attract residents and staff in an increasingly competitive environment.”
CDW is a leading multi-brand technology solutions provider to business, government, education and health care customers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. Our broad array of offerings range from hardware and software to integrated IT solutions such as security, cloud, data center and networking. To learn more, download the white paper “3 Keys to Senior Living Tech Investment.”