Today more than ever, senior living organizations are turning to technology to enhance communications in their communities with all constituencies, whether residents, staff or family members. As part of our continuing effort to help provide community leadership with information on the options available to them during these times of physical distancing, we invited Natalie Jones of K4Connect to contribute this blog. K4Connect has just announced free access to and fully remote installation of its new communications solution, K4Community Plus.  If you would like more information on any of the ideas expressed here, please feel free to reach out directly to Natalie. We hope these insights are helpful to you!

– Rob Love, President/CEO, Love & Company

Guest article by Natalie Jones, Director of Marketing + Communications, K4Connect

May 28, 2020

COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of senior living operations and resident life in communities around the world. Now more than ever, technology is emerging as an essential part of daily operations as operators quickly turn to digital platforms and tools to provide alternative routes to maintain resident and family communication, staff-to-resident connection, resident-to-resident engagement, virtual activities and more.

Dining halls are closing, group programming has all but halted entirely and most unfortunate, in order to protect them from this virus, visitation restrictions are keeping residents from seeing their loved ones. As senior living communities focus on keeping residents safe, the impact on resident life in quarantine is mounting and communities need to be able to solve these new challenges quickly.

At K4Connect, our belief is that technology is only meaningful when it improves the quality of everyday life—we like to say, making life Simpler, Healthier and Happier. From resident engagement features and tools that keep families, staff and residents connected, to staff resources that streamline workflows, technology has the ability to truly transform senior living in a positive way. Right now, as senior living communities are experiencing the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19, digital communication is critical to successfully overcoming some of the biggest challenges our community partners are facing.

Here, we’ve detailed three key reasons why senior living communities need to prioritize digital communications, plus a variety of mediums, tools and resources communities can implement today.  It’s important to also note that these observations are not simply theoretical; rather, they are rooted in what we are seeing from many of the 800+ communities we serve across the country.

Keeping residents informed and connected

As residents remain in their residences with daily activities and group dining severely restricted—or most often, canceled entirely—staying up to date on the latest information can be difficult and confusing. Communities are implementing a number of manual practices to keep residents informed like printed notices slipped under the door or into their meal deliveries, or posting announcements to the community website. Digitizing how residents can receive information enables communities to not only cover more ground, but allows the resident to stay up to date in ways that are most comfortable for them and the easiest to access.  Examples include:

Building and maintaining family connections

Severe quarantine measures in senior living are keeping residents and loved ones apart. By now, we’ve all seen the viral pictures of grandparents meeting new grandchildren through windows or even impromptu outdoor performances for quarantined residents. This extended separation causes stress for residents, their families who aren’t able to come see them, and in turn, the community teams trying to foster social connections alongside the realities of their daily responsibilities.

Digital tools and platforms can rebuild these connections, providing residents other ways of staying in touch and giving communities new outlets to reassure families their loved ones are being cared for during this unsettling time.

Battling the impacts of resident social isolation

Social isolation is not new to senior living, but it is a heightened concern now as communities are on lockdown with strict quarantine protocols that keep residents isolated in their rooms for long periods of time. In many ways, the need to socially distance to stay safe and “flatten the curve” is a bit of a Catch-22 for older adults. It is of course necessary, but we also have to recognize that social isolation has extreme mental and health impacts. Maintaining digital connection and stimulation throughout the day is essential to mental and emotional well-being.

Technology provides myriad opportunities for communities to continue to deliver this type of programming directly to residents in their homes.

For additional recommendations, K4Connect recently dedicated a blog post to 11 ways senior living communities can battle social isolation during COVID-19, which can be viewed here.

As senior living communities continue to face the growing challenges of COVID-19, the marriage of manual and digital communications enables staff teams to accelerate and scale those critical categories of communication, engagement and connection. Ultimately, these short-term needs are pathways to establishing a longer-term technology strategy that can better support operators, staff and residents well into the future. For communities that are only just beginning to consider digital tools, many providers, like K4Connect, are currently offering fully remote activations as well as discounted and free products to support senior living organizations through COVID-19.

Read the article here on Love & Company

For more useful information to help senior living organizations navigate the challenges presented by COVID-19, visit the Love & Company blog for in-depth articles and resources. To learn more about how Love & Company can help your organization maintain its marketing and sales efforts during this time, contact Tim Bracken at 410-207-0013 or tbracken@loveandcompany.com.