This piece was adapted from a story reported by Senior Living Foresight.
Engagement is all about meeting people where they are and with what they are interested in. That’s why Jill Crowley, program coordinator at Newbury Court, knew she had to find a way to connect with her residents on their devices. Her residents expressed the desire to have access to information where they wanted, when they wanted.
“Residents started asking me ‘Is there a way we can have more information at our fingertips?’ It was a good question. And it got us thinking, ‘How about an app?’”
The community turned to their digital sign provider, Touchtown, to implement a custom app for their community. The signs were a big step away from their days of printing community announcements on reams of paper, and the process was simple and effective when they made the switch. Adding Touchtown’s Community Apps proved just as simple, the apps connected to the products they were already using.
The community’s administrators were sold on the simplicity. Next, they had to convince the residents.
And it was easier than they thought. Once the community’s technologists came in and presented the app to the community, it was a done deal.
“They presented the app and suddenly, everyone wanted to get started, all at once,” Crowley said.
Within a month, one-third of the entire resident population downloaded the app.
The community has seen serious benefits with the app:
Actively engage residents
As Jill puts it, “The app took on a life of its own.” Friendly peer pressure was a motivator for many. “We’d see people sitting together and one person would ask, ‘When is the piano concert?’ The answer? ‘Well, if you had the app you’d know.’”
Residents are enjoying new ways to connect through the app — searching for neighbors with mutual interests in the app’s resident directory, using a virtual bulletin board module to buy and sell items, and following real-time updates on activities, announcements and menus.
Technology also helps fight social isolation in seniors, leading to quality of life improvement and longer stays at the community they are engaged with.
*For privacy, this is a mock example and not Newbury Court’s actual resident directory.
Help seniors adopt technology
As savvier residents begin to move into senior living, they will want communities that embrace the tech they’re used to using. But the less technologically inclined at Newbury Court are just as interested in technology that is simple and meets their needs.
“This app is so easy to use. And, if you don’t know how to use it, it’s easy to train on it,” said Crowley.
As a result of its low barrier to entry, more residents are always signing onto the app and become more open to adopting technologies that in turn help the community keep them engaged, even opening doors for communities to introduce other tech tools that help residents and operators.
Once residents begin using the app at Newbury Court, they reportedly become quite attached to the wonders of technology.
So, what would happen if the Touchtown app was taken away from residents? It wouldn’t be pretty, according to Jill. “They would come at me with pitchforks”, she jokes. “Seriously, they are so used to having so much information at their fingertips, there is no way they’re going back.”
Empower senior living staff
The front desk fields less and less questions on activities and dining menus. Cloud-based updates mean no retyping and reprinting paper documents.
All things considered, the staff, including Jill, consider it a major time saver. “If we’re in the lobby waiting for people to come down, I can look up the missing residents on the directory and call instantly. No bugging the concierge,” Jill says.
Staff can also use the app to learn about and engage with residents, access employee information, and more.
And Crowley had one more thing to note — “When I first introduced the app, many of the residents told me that they thought I had ‘dreamed it up,’” she says. “And, frankly, I was happy to take some of the credit!”