As the pandemic grew, so did the technology for senior living facilities. This change may not have come as a surprise given the need for connectivity between isolated residents at the height of the pandemic, but what many operators failed to realize was how much it would affect community operations – driven by trends around resident adoption, the rise of new technology-related roles and responsibilities, and planning for the unknown, including budgeting for future investments.
This shift has driven three key trends, which are driving investment decisions for 2022 and beyond.
Technological emergency for residents
Residents have always used technology, but never before has the need been more critical than when many isolated themselves to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“With seniors staying in their rooms and apartments to reduce COVID-19 infections, providers have invested in solutions that offer video calling capabilities,” says Jessica Longly, business development strategist at CDW Healthcare. “Vendors also focused on technologies that encouraged resident engagement and connection.”
Communication was still just as necessary for these people, but the element of talking directly to someone in person became much more difficult. New technological advancements have raised more and more questions and concerns regarding the use of these devices.
Technical assistance and innovation advice
With limited in-person interaction to stop the spread of the virus, seniors have relied on technology to talk to family, friends and even doctors for medical advice. Although technology is rapidly transforming the world of communication, caregivers in institutions caring for the elderly have also played an important role in this era. Helping the older generation to use these products became a priority, but it was a question of who would help them.
At the same time, operators have had to ensure that technology doesn’t replace person-centered care, Longly says.
“I believe the technology is there to serve two functions: to streamline existing caregiver workflows and to 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 watched residents engage with technology, but many of the new products require more in-person instruction. By implementing a ‘tech concierge’, many communities have been able to provide support to less tech-savvy residents.
“The Tech Concierge schedules 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 rely on for their future needs,” explains Longly.
The tech concierge role can also provide a figurehead for community collaboration on technology, including residents’ councils who can brainstorm ideas and resolve any technology issues. These councils allow individuals to consult, strategically plan and make decisions, with resident input being the primary driver of these plans.
Planning budgets around unknowns
The booming technology market is also bringing new ideas to these communities. More business means more expense, but it’s up to management to decide where to invest.
“Deciding which technology to invest in can be confusing,” says Liz Cramer, chief post-acute care strategist for CDW Healthcare.
Some 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 institution/campus results and/or my quality metrics?
Despite many conflicting priorities over the unknown, most agree that expanded budgets will continue and that adequate infrastructure will be critical to future technology adoption.
“Organizations that are currently making key infrastructure investments will have an easier time implementing new and innovative technologies,” says Longly. “This will be all the more important as organizations strive to attract residents and staff in an increasingly competitive environment.”
CDW is a leading provider of multi-brand technology solutions for business, government, education and healthcare in the US, UK and Canada. Our wide range of offerings range from hardware and software to integrated IT solutions such as security, cloud, data center and networking. To learn more, visit CDW Healthcare.