A common misconception about seniors is that they don’t use technology nor have a willingness to want to learn. However, today’s seniors are well traveled, well informed and well connected. With National Assisted Living Week upon us, we sat down with our Senior Director of Technology, Karen Taylor, to explore this year’s theme “Keep Connected.”
MCL: What are your job duties and responsibilities as the Senior Director of Technology?
KT: I manage the technology strategy for Morrison Community Living, working with corporate IT to strategize and share innovative technology processes and solutions. Part of that involves looking at new and exciting emerging technology trends. I also look at how existing technologies are being used in other industries to see how those same technologies can best be used in our senior living communities.
MCL: How are assisted living residents staying up to date with the latest technology? Any challenges?
KT: One of the challenges with technology solutions is the range of awareness and comfort among the senior community, be it independent living, assisted living or memory care. A growing number of seniors are technology savvy, continually learning from younger generations and through the internet on their own phones. At the other end of the spectrum, there are more passive users who require much more coaching or engagement.
The introduction of new technologies like TVs and media walls will continue to bridge this gap.
MCL: How are associates using technology and innovative tools to enhance care to residents?
KT: We are on the cusp of an exciting time for technology use in our senior communities. Associates are currently using technology devices and applications to manage the residents’ dining experience. Doing so allows for personalized attention with menus catered to their individual preferences and dietary requirements. Behind the scenes, technology is also being used to manage operational functions including tracking meals, inventory management and environmental support services. Moving towards the future, the end goal is to increase automation and efficiencies as well as reduce paper and dual data entry. In addition, we will continue to explore ways to manage personalized care through technology (e.g. facial recognition). We will also continue to look at other applications as they relate to regulatory compliance and resident safety.
MCL: What innovative changes can we look forward to in Morrison communities and in the assisted living industry in general?
KT: There are so many existing and emerging technologies that can be applied in our communities. From wireless home automation and connected home devices to video and voice technology – the sky’s the limit. There’s also a number of mobile applications to make it easier to connect friends, family, associates and residents. Topics can include education and learning, healthy living and beyond. In the near future, for example, a resident could use a voice command on a smart TV to submit meal requests for lunch/dinner in the cafe, schedule a room cleaning, review the day’s community activities and events, share photos on social media and much more.
With technology evolving daily, it’s a great opportunity for our residents, associates and communities to connect in a whole new way. We’re excited to see what the future has in store for our communities and the assisted living industry as a whole.