Leveraging technology to improve resident care and staff experience

Headshot by Matt Phipps
Matt Phillips

Google “Senior Living Technology” and you’re sure to find tons of news articles, trending lists, and commentary on the subject. The “there’s an app for that” culture is here to stay, and our industry sees many benefits.

In most sectors this is not very newsworthy; However, when living in old age, it is important to balance interpersonal communication and the use of technology, rather than relying on intelligent technology to replace that human touch.

Deciding where and when to leverage these innovations, while ensuring that personal interaction is not hampered, will continue to be critical in determining the best use of intelligent technology in our business.

Mainly residents

Resident safety and care is high on the list of applications for smart tech. This is especially true in settings like ours, where teams work closely with residents, families and GPs to create personalized plans across the continuum of care and for restorative rehabilitation services, critical illness or surgery.

For example, at Birches Health Center in Trillium Woods, our team deployed a smart, hands-free Vocera badge that uses simple voice commands to connect individuals and groups to the information they need to care for residents.

The Trillium Woods and LCS teams are very proud of this advancement, especially our recent one McKnights Excellence in Technology Award, but the result for residents is even more exciting.

AI technology is also making its way into the hospitality industry in our industry.

What had proven to be a viable solution to COVID-related staffing challenges, ‘Servi the Robot’, known in our community as ‘Trilli’, has grown into much more than an innovative overseer who helps Trillium Woods wait staff by empowering residents and guests deliver crockery to their residents.

More importantly, this technology frees staff time to attend to guests’ holistic needs, whether that be a helping hand, an empathetic ear, or a watchful eye to monitor for unanticipated changes in behavior that might indicate residents’ needs have that they don’t share with their care team.

The staff appreciates the helping hand in every sense of the word; and residents love Trilli for the “tidy” factor, as well as the fact that team members now have more time to share, turn the breeze, and cater to personal needs. Trilli gives our team more opportunities to engage with residents, socialize and see what’s new

Employee satisfaction and retention

Employee satisfaction and retention are critical to running any business, especially one that involves providing quality care to residents. To that end, supporting and listening to our team is paramount. We recently conducted an employee survey at Trillium Woods where 90% of the team said they could do their job more efficiently if they had a better way to communicate with each other at work. Seventy percent also said their job would be more enjoyable if they had better communication skills.

This led us to implement a Vocera solution to facilitate internal communication.

Within a few months, the Vocera badge and smartphone application significantly increased employee satisfaction in terms of workflow efficiency and communication. Additionally, we learned that by using this technology, nurses saved an average of 30 minutes per shift because they no longer had to spend valuable time searching for help or finding other staff members to support them in specific situations.

This success prompted us to integrate technology solutions into our nurse call system that will allow care team members to speak directly to residents, which is expected to help reduce staff response times upon completion.

Ultimately, we promote employee well-being and improve the work environment simply by providing a better way to communicate and collaborate. The proof, they say, is in the proverbial pudding.

While change can often be difficult, it can also be exciting when we see the right technology being used in the right way for the benefit of staff and residents.

Employee and resident satisfaction, improved health outcomes and operational efficiencies. It’s a technology-enabled win-win-win situation.

Matt Phipps is Managing Director of Trillium Woods and provides ongoing care in Plymouth, MN.

The opinions expressed McKnight’s senior life Marketplace columns are those of the author and not necessarily those of McKnight’s senior life.

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