Is Technology Senior Living’s Silver Bullet for Higher Quality of Care?

Senior living providers are always striving to do it better: Better dining experience, better social moments, better resident safety. Perhaps most significant is the effort to provide superlative quality of care.

There’s much that can be done to drive high quality care in a senior housing setting. Staff training is a crucial component, as is communications among staff and medical providers.

What many fail to note is the role of technology, which may well be the silver bullet in driving higher quality of care in senior housing. More than just an enabler of efficiency (as popular perception supposes) contemporary technology can be a means to dramatically improve the level of care among senior housing residents.

Prevention

Technology can enable early illness detection to avoid many negative health incidents. Passive health monitoring for example can track certain vital signs and other functional health indicators, and notify caregivers when signs of certain common illnesses emerge such as heart disease, stroke, UTI’s and more. This ability to know when to intervene, without having to administer any special tests or otherwise personally recognize symptoms, represents a major advance in preventative care that takes overall quality of care to a whole new level.

Recordkeeping

In the past senior housing operators have had little ability to track residents’ wellness over time. Staff relied largely on paper systems. Events might be recorded if someone had the time and remembered to do it. Details would be sketchy, covering just the time period and perhaps the nature of the event. Today’s more thorough communications systems represent a silver bullet in the effort to generate a more complete record. Systems may note the time of a distress call, the name of the responder and the time to respond. Systems may automatically note the nature of the call and the detailed response.

Personalization

Quality of care rests in part on the ability to understand the wellness needs of each individual resident. Technology can help. Take for instance falls prevention. Contemporary systems can monitor a resident’s basic patterns of mobility over time. Even more significant, such systems can pair with “artificial intelligence” – smart software that can learn the resident’s patterns of behavior. The ability to build up an individual picture is a big leap forward in quality of care. While an aggregate picture of senior wellness in a community can be helpful, this ability to look at specific, individual health needs represents a move toward significantly higher quality of care.

Ubiquity

However well staffed a senior residence may be, no one can be everywhere at once. Staffers, however well intentioned, cannot watch the desk, respond to calls, assist with social interactions and monitor the overall activity within a building. Technology is the magic bullet, especially in the form of passive monitoring. Such systems solve the ubiquity problem: With passive monitoring, caregivers can, in fact, be everywhere at once, or nearly so. It’s just one more example of the ways in which technology is driving quality of care to unprecedented heights.

While there is no single silver bullet solution, technology is enhancing senior quality of care. Have you explored the possibilities yet?

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