How Senior Living Communities Use Mobile Apps to Keep Families Engaged
How many apps do you have on your smartphone, tablet or computer right now? Think of how you rely on those apps to stay organized, connected and in control of your life. We all do! But it’s not just individuals who are recognizing the value of using apps—even senior living communities are finding that using what’s being termed as “assisted living apps” can greatly improve every aspect of their operations and also their relationship with residents and families.
What are Assisted Living Apps?
Over the last few years, several assisted living apps, like Sagely and Lifeloop, have been specifically developed for use in senior living communities. Early adopters, like The Ridge Senior Living, have been thrilled with how these apps have enhanced their operations at every level. Using a mobile app has been especially effective when it comes to strengthening the all-important “three-way flow” between care staff, families and residents, which is so vital to increasing both family and community engagement.
How Do Senior Living Apps Work?
In simple terms, senior living apps create access, connection and peace-of-mind for families, team members and residents in ways that manual processes like keeping activity logs and relaying messages and data through several staff members cannot.
Senior living communities have several goals with regard to resident care, communications, and quality of life. When it comes to meeting these goals, users have said that employing a mobile app outweighs traditional means in promoting family and community engagement, as well as greater care transparency.
First, a mobile app promotes family engagement in real-time. With a device in hand, team members have the ability to quickly communicate with families, answer their questions, and provide them with worry-reducing information like weekly updates on their loved one’s well being.
Second, the apps can significantly improve data-keeping and offer up “at your fingertips” health and personal information about a resident, both of which contribute to enhanced and individualized resident care by team members. The Ridge actually uses two of the most popular and effective mobile apps; Sagely (at Cottonwood and Foothill); and Lifeloop (at Pinehurst, which is scheduled to open in Spring 2020).
What Are Some of the Special App Features for Families?
It’s often not realistic to visit a loved one in person every day or to expect to speak on a daily basis with the care team. Activities and responsibilities are numerous, and the simple fact is that senior living communities are sometimes large. Additionally, loved ones with dementia or disabilities may not even be able to use a phone.
Assisted living apps help to remove these obstacles to communication and family engagement. For example, apps are often set up to deploy weekly updates on a loved one’s activities, wellness, and care, which helps keep families in the know without resorting to constant check-up calls. The apps also provide families access to a wealth of daily real-time insights (i.e. What’s dad doing right now? How’s mom feeling?) and can even upload real-time photos of their loved ones participating in activities and enjoying life. Some apps even feature “request” functions, allowing families to schedule ride requests and even room maintenance requests on behalf of their loved ones.
Residents, too, are benefitting from senior living apps. Many of today’s seniors still enjoy using technology, and an easy-to-use mobile app lets them connect with family, friends, and team members—a way for them to feel more at home and less isolated.
How Do Senior Living Apps Benefit Staff and Caregiving?
Most important, feature-packed senior living apps put important care management tools in the hands of every member of the care team—and that translates to being more responsive to residents’ families when they have questions or concerns.
The apps serve as data-rich resources that can be accessed with just a few clicks. A mobile app can replace manual chart-keeping and thick notebooks filled with patient forms—both of which compromise the valuable time caregivers could be using to engage with your loved one. Using the mobile app, a caregiver can quickly look up a resident’s preferences, interests, and health needs. This kind of connection isn’t just critical to their wellbeing; when a resident feels like a person instead of “just another resident,” the connection is instant, and the positive effect is tremendous.
What’s more, a caregiver who believes they are making a greater contribution to the welfare of their charges by creating a stronger, more reliable flow of communication with the family is bound to feel a greater sense of job satisfaction and provide more consistent, quality care—an important benefit for your loved one.
Choosing the Right Senior Living Community
Assisted living apps are fairly new to the senior living market, but fortunately, the number of communities employing them is growing. It’s very likely that within the next few years, almost every senior living community will be using them, much like hospitals and other medical care facilities do now. That’s not to say that a community can’t provide quality senior care without an app—there are many excellent communities to choose from in the United States.
Of course, knowing the challenges that all senior living communities face when it comes to communications, engagement, and quality of care at any senior living community could help you ask better questions when you begin to explore senior living options for your loved one.
Want to learn more about how technology is used in senior living and senior care? Check out this blog post on the technology used in assisted living and here at The Ridge Senior Living.