New Incident Alerting and Fall Detection Technologies Solve Industry Pain Points
There have never been more pain points in senior living than there are today. Webster defines “Pain Point” as a persistent or recurring problem. The senior living business is currently experiencing several pain points that have been heightened by the pandemic, including:
Lower occupancy in apartments
Harder to find and retain qualified staff
Continuing isolation of residents
Pressure to manage expenses in light of declining revenue
Continuing CapEx needs
Ability to reengage family members of residents
Three of these pain points are interrelated: Staffing, resident isolation, and engagement with families of residents. What will be the source of pain relief?
Look to technology for some answers. The senior living business has never been known as “innovative.” On the contrary, it has been a business of crowd followers versus leaders. That puts senior living – as an industry – on the back end of technological innovation and implementation.
Isolation of Residents
The separation of residents and staff during the pandemic has also focused operators on the “need to know” about their residents’ well-being. To keep track of resident health, operators used to rely on their powers of observation as residents participated in community activities, took advantage of fitness options, or visited the dining room. Covid left operators uncertain of resident health as their residents were confined to apartments for long stretches of time – Far from the watchful eyes of managers. If additional virus strains lead to a suspension of group activities, how will operators track resident health and safety?
Incident Alerting and Fall Detection
The separation of residents from community staff has also heightened the interest in fall detection and resident incident alerting, I hear and observe several companies that are attempting to provide alerts of resident falls and incidents in retirement communities. Some have been around for decades, and some are new to senior living. There is quite a bit of noise in the marketplace right now – the owners and operators of retirement communities now have several options. Here are some of the Pros and Cons:
Pull cords and Push buttons
Pull cords and push buttons have been around hospitals, nursing homes and retirement communities for decades. Product websites offer detailed descriptions of how their systems are activated. Most of these systems are as outdated as the nursing home environments where they exist. One significant limitation is that a person might – and often do - fall out of reach of a pull cord.
Some tech companies have been working to monitor falls based on a wrist-mounted sensor. This could work provided that residents never remove the sensor – But they do: For sleep, for showers, while washing dishes, etc. So what good is a sensor on the nightstand when the resident falls in the bathroom? These devices also increase staff oversight costs to manage these devices.
One product on the market turns on a camera when a fall occurs. This concept is fraught with privacy issues – even if residents and their families agree to the cameras. Corporate legal counsel will weigh in on this approach for many operators. All parties should be concerned about the presence of cameras in the resident apartment.
Ambient Home Sensing Systems
Ambient home sensing systems work by using the sensors in the devices in the home like switches and thermostat. The system should offer two options: A conscious resident can call out for help to a voice-activated device; or an unconscious resident is identified by ambient sensing system that can alert staff on behalf of the resident. Such a system should be easy to implement and not require management or resident training.
Senior housing needs a system that can alert staff to potential resident falls or incidents without requiring the resident to wear a pendant, pull a cord or push a button.
It's time to get in front of technology in senior living and implement devices and systems that address our current and growing needs for service, care, and communications.
Who wants to be a leader and who wants to be a follower?
Joe Anderson is VP of Sales at Caspar.AI. Joe has over 30 years experience in the management and marketing of retirement communities. Former SVP of ABHOW/Human Good; former CEO and Board Chair of SQLC Lifecare Communities; and former President of Seniority senior community management firm. Caspar.AI is ambient home sensing technology is backed by seven U.S. Patents. The SuperSensory Hub creates “Smart Apartments” that support residents in many ways – From simple call out for help with voice to fall detection bringing immediate returns to owners and operators. Caspar.AI is implementing this technology throughout the US and is working with providers in Canada and Japan as well.