Written by Ceren Efe
In a world of exponential tech growth, “staying connected” has become somewhat of a paradox. Heightened by a worldwide pandemic, most of us are further apart physically than we have every been with our loved ones. But yet, a lot of us are communicating more, getting creative, checking in with each other, and sharing more on social media. The little things mean more, because they’ve become all we have.
As a technology company, we are acutely aware of these changes. Features that were once “nice-to-haves”, like our in-suite channel option and our community portal, have become “need-to-haves” in the wake of the pandemic. We take pride in the fact that we can offer these services to our community partners in an unprecedented time of struggle.
Census at retirement communities is the lowest it has ever been, even for communities that once had a waiting list. You may be wondering how a technology platform could ever help your census. We’re here to tell you that it can help, and it can help a lot. The simplest methods involve increasing communication, improving your existing COVID protocols, and keeping residents and families engaged.
Here are just a few of the ways you can do this with new technologies:
1. An Online Community Portal
One of the major concerns from our senior living community partners is that they lack an efficient mode of communication with family members outside the community. This leads to worried and fearful family members concerned that their loved ones living at the community are not being taken care of – when it may very well be the opposite. The reality is that when families don’t know what’s happening, they may assume the worst. You could have the greatest COVID-Calendar of events in the pandemic-stricken world, complete with the most stringent health and safety precautions, but it is moot if nobody knows about it.
Phone lines at the Front Desk are tied up with families calling asking about their loved ones, and the current protocol at the community. In an already under-staffed and high turnover industry, this takes precious time that could be used to help your residents.
Having an online community portal that your family members can sign up for from the comfort of home to view the latest happenings at the community is an incredibly easy option to implement that will offer something invaluable – peace of mind. The best online portals also allow families to connect with their loved ones’ profiles to update their information, as well as view recently attended activities and meals.
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2. Livestreaming activities
Another critical concern with residents in senior living communities can be isolation. This existed prior to the pandemic and has been compounded exponentially with it. Most communities have been trying their best – offering programs that are “door-side activities” for instance. But what if you could livestream activities directly to your residents’ TVs, to make them feel like they are right there with you? We’ve loved seeing our senior living community partners get creative with this – live cooking classes, cocktail hours, Bingo nights, and painting courses – just to name a few. The options are endless, and residents feel more engaged – especially when the activities are run by friendly and familiar faces. Even external vendors such as yoga instructors that are no longer able to visit the community can livestream to the community from the comfort of their homes!
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3. Infrared Heat Cameras
In areas with easing restrictions, it’s important to start allowing visitors for the mental health of your residents (and their families!). But you obviously want to make sure the ultimate unwanted visitor doesn’t enter the building. Along with regular health precautions – like staying 6 feet apart, wearing a mask, and sanitizing hands – consider adding a touchless infrared camera screen for visitors to pass by before they walk in. The Front Desk can even initiate a video call with the visitor through cameras on both sides if necessary. This system ensures that visitors don’t even enter your building unless their temperature is below a certain threshold. Families will appreciate knowing that you’re doing all that you can to protect the safety of their loved ones.
4. Online booking system for family visits
Taking bookings for visits are a completely new concept for some of our senior living communities. With a short amount of time to prepare and limited budgets, a lot of these communities have been using the tried-and-true method of phone calls and a notepad. But these bookings can get out of hand quickly – especially as protocols change week by week. Giving families a quick and easy way to book online, as well as request changes to their bookings, will free up time for your staff, get you organized quickly, and give families peace of mind.
5. Easy-to-Use Video Calling Tablets
When in-person visits are not possible, getting face time with loved ones is second best. Most senior living communities are using laptops or tablets, and having families call in to schedule time slots for a video call with their loved ones. The best way to do this is to use a tablet or a program that is HIPAA-compliant and specifically designed for senior living and healthcare – like our ATouchAway option. This is the most senior-friendly and family-friendly option for video calling on the senior living market.
Introducing these options to your community will not only begin to increase your census, but improve the lives of residents and family members involved with your community. We believe each solution is well worth its weight in value. But if you’re wondering how your community can afford some of these options with a limited budget – options exist to ease the financial burden. There are federal, provincial and state-wide grants being offered to assist senior living communities specifically during these difficult times. Review your government’s websites for more information.
Additionally, choose providers that are willing to work with you. If the technology partners you’ve been exploring are not willing to customize their plans and offer financing options for you to make it work, go for a company that will.
Book a demo today! The demo is customized around you. Get answers to your unique questions and find out why InTouchLink is the right choice for your community.