Technology plays an important role in the elderly care industry, but is particularly valuable in memory care settings. From supporting cognitive function to increasing resident safety, technology is helping to better assist residents.
Special applications of technology in memory protection settings
Many memory units and organizations are already using technology to help their residents. Amanda Runnoe, vice president of clinical operations and quality operations at Heritage Senior Living in Wisconsin, explained that the organization uses a variety of technologies.
MapHabitProgram is an interactive and practical care management program that uses a patented visual mapping system. This system is paired with smart devices and mental exercises that help improve residents ’knowledge and reinforce routine habits.
Heritage Senior Living also uses Dele Health Tech, a real-time fall management system. The system has sensors and artificial intelligence located in the resident room or throughout the residence.
TrueLoo has also installed the organization, a smart toilet that provides employees with data on the health and well-being of residents. Employees are able to detect emerging health issues and take action early, based on individual resident trends.
“The technologies we have implemented have come from a desire to further improve systems and solve problems,” Runno explained. “For example, we have identified that people with cognitive impairments often do not seek help after a fall. We looked at fall prevention systems and found a decent fall prevention technology that provides sensor technology to alert care groups in real time of fall events.”
Runno explained that the technological systems have helped to improve the care of the residents. He noted that technology allows caregivers to quickly access details about each neighbor’s allergies, medical diagnoses, medication orders, and the level of support they need for activities of daily living. “Easily accessing this information is essential to provide the best care for residents.”
In addition, technology has enabled Heritage Senior Living to set standards of care and process at 15 locations in Wisconsin. “It has allowed us to monitor quality indicators and implement systems to improve the clinical outcomes of our residents,” he says. “It has also improved communication between staff, residents and families.”
Andrew Carle is an adjunct and senior lecturer in postgraduate curricula in the administration of the elderly at Georgetown University for his work in the elderly life nationwide. Carle coined the term “Nan Technology ™” to describe technology based on microchips designed to improve the quality of life of older adults. Carle Shenandoah was one of the leading designers in The Virginian, a unique community for the memory of the elderly in Fairfax, Virginia.
In identifying the technology to be incorporated into Shenandoah, Carle explored how this technology can improve the quality of life for the elderly. With 25 years of experience designing memory facilities, Carle selected technology in three categories: improving safety, increasing resident engagement, and improving overall health and well-being.
To help with health and well-being, Carle opted for an advanced lighting system that mimics the natural light of the sun. The system is programmed so that it can be set to mimic light patterns in any time zone or location. Residents may take care of memory at dusk and lose track of time, but circadian lighting can help restore biorhythms. The sensory living room system also has the ability to change light colors to promote different atmospheres, such as a quieter or calmer view.
A fall management platform called SafelyYou helps ensure the safety of residents. The system includes a camera installed in the corner of each neighbor’s home and captures falls. Only falls are recorded; all other data is deleted immediately. As a result, employees will be able to watch a video of a fall in seconds, and see what actually happened, including what caused the fall. Staff can better assess the severity of a fall, whether a resident should go to an emergency, and take corrective action to prevent future falls.
Shenandoah has a number of technology systems in place to support resident participation. Obie, a hand-held gaming system used in Europe, was introduced in the United States about a year ago. “We were one of the first communities in the United States,” says Carl. The system is easy to use, and residents can play by shaking hands. The system tracks data so that employees can track which game each neighbor likes, how long it plays, and any changes in response times that may indicate a health problem.
The community also uses SingFit Prime, a music app created by music therapists. The app combines singing, movement and memory. “It’s very appealing,” says Carl. “Every song has a purpose and a reason, and it captures movement or curiosity.”
LifeBio, an agetech company, helps to capture the life story of each resident. This evidence-based application asks specific and guided questions through an online portal. Residents and their adult children can be interviewed, and the app’s artificial intelligence technology transcribes those voice conversations. The platform can also record the voices of residents and save photos of their lives.
The results are threefold. The platform produces an edited life story book that can be printed so that family members or neighbors can have copies of the book. The book includes images presented and details the story of the lives of the residents. The platform also creates a one-page photo of each resident, as well as an action plan document that caregivers can use to learn more about the neighbor’s background.
Good practices in the introduction of new technologies in organizations
In choosing technology, Charles emphasizes the importance of using evidence-based products. “Don’t get caught up in all the bells and whistles, or the things that look nice but have no real science behind them,” he recommends. It also suggests looking at technology that deals with safety, commitment, or health and well-being.
Runno points out that introducing change, whether it’s technology or not, can be challenging. “Some are resilient to change and prefer the convenience of popular tools and processes,” he says. “We’ve learned that it’s important for teams to get involved as early as possible to help them understand the intent and purpose of technology. Early participation can help promote employee consensus. ”