Through social distancing and other safety measures enacted in the year 2020, senior members of our society, especially residents of assisted living facilities missed out on many of their usual opportunities to interact with family and friends. Fortunately, we have been able to innovate and figure out ways to improve resident engagement and family communication through the use of senior living software.
However, as happens any time a new societal need develops, many low-quality products have come on the market. These inferior products have muddied the waters and made it difficult to determine which senior living software is best.
In this guide, we will break down the most important features of assisted living software to ensure that our elders are able to engage with their community and their loved ones regardless of any restrictions, physical limitations, or government mandates that may be involved.
While there are many important software features that may be relevant for a particular person, we have generated a list of the 9 most crucial features of senior living software that are most beneficial to residents, family, and assisted living staff.
1. Reservations. With many senior living apps, the resident can make reservations for certain activities, transportation, and family visits. This allows the staff and residents to have instant confirmation of when things are happening in order to better allocate resources, drivers, and necessary staff throughout the week.
2. Exercise and Entertainment Options. Even when residents aren’t able to leave their rooms, participation in group activities can continue through well-designed senior living software. Additionally, assisted living software can provide entertainment options such as television shows, movies, and radio programs catered to individual resident interest.
3. Organizational Tools. Many residents will have very different schedules and needs. Facility organizers should have access to helpful senior living software that makes planning and organizing these schedules easy.
4. Polls and Staff Feedback. Some senior living software allows for residents and family members to complete questionnaires and provide feedback to the staff. This doesn’t have to be just negative feedback either. If a resident thought a staff member did an excellent job or a family member was really impressed with the facility, these comments can be easily conveyed through the use of effective assisted living software.
5. Menus. Meal time can be one of the most exciting parts of the day. It’s always fun to check out a menu and all of us are tempted by the descriptions of the food we’re soon to be enjoying. But planning meals for a large group of residents is not always easy. In fact, this can be one of the most stressful tasks in the day of an assisted living staff member. Good senior living software allows residents to make simple meal selections on a screen, instantly conveying this data to the kitchen staff.
6. Urgent Alerts. It’s not something any of us want to think about, but emergencies do happen. People occasionally break into buildings, natural weather disasters can occur, residents can suffer from cardiac events, and viral outbreaks can cause widespread panic. With effective senior living software, both resident and family communication pertaining to these emergencies can be instantly sent out. This allows for transparency between staff, residents, and family; which, in turn, enables a quicker, more effective response from EMS or whoever is triaging the situation.
7. Picture and Video Storage. Using a mobile device; residents, family, and staff can upload pictures to shared albums which can be accessed by the resident whenever he or she wishes. Pictures and videos are some of the best ways to capture pivotal moments in life and these snapshots help residents stay connected with family and friends.
8. Adaptability. Senior living software needs to be adaptable for our changing abilities as we age. For example, senior living apps need to be able to accommodate decreased visual acuity by allowing for text enlargement or audio playback of messages.
9. Simple Design. It seems like with all of the features we’ve discussed, senior living apps would have to be complicated technology feats that require a user’s manual. On the contrary, assisted living software should allow for one-touch options and other easy features that allow residents to use the technology in a way that benefits them and maintains community engagement.
Besides the important features described in the previous section, you’ll also need to consider some other factors before you implement senior living software for your residents.
· Price. Cost is always an important consideration when it comes to any new technology or equipment. How much will this senior living software set you back? Are there other, more affordable ways to accomplish the same things that this technology promises? Is it a fixed price, subscription, or one-time fee? All of these questions should be strongly considered before you enter a contract with a senior living software provider that may end up costing you too much money in the long run.
· Training. Does the software company provide any staff and resident training for how to use the assisted living technology? If not, the assisted living facility may have to purchase some extra training or spend some time learning the software themselves before introducing it to the residents.
· Set-Up Timeline. Once you decide on your senior living software, you’ll then need to determine how long it’s going to take to get the technology up and running. Does it require the purchase of all new devices or can it be used on existing tablets and phones? Will you be waiting a week, a month, or a year before you can start using the software? This is important information not only for your facility planning, but also so that you don’t let your residents know too early, drumming up excitement for something that won’t be available for quite a while.
Senior living software is one of the best ways to improve resident engagement and family communication in the digital age. There is no telling what the future holds for us in terms of pandemics and viruses such as COVID-19. But implementing the best available technology now is a way for us to address these problems before they develop.