A case study with Masonic Villages at Elizabethtown and K4Community

Masonic Villages of Pennsylvania is a world-class retirement living operator dedicated to providing an amenity-rich environment for residents to “enjoy life their way.” With over 145 years in service, across 5 locations, Masonic Villages has earned a coveted reputation as a leading provider of senior living.  Elizabethtown is Masonic’s largest community, and is listed as the 10th largest individual not-for-profit campus by in the Ziegler 150 with nearly 1,600 homes.

K4Community (K4Connect’s flagship product) is a connected-life software platform specifically designed for the senior living industry and represents the future of a truly connected community. While seen by residents as an amenity helping them live more independent, active and purposeful lives, K4Community provides operators with an integrated management and analytics tool, necessary to provide the best in care, hospitality and operational effectiveness.

The Study

In 2017, Masonic Village and K4Connect teamed up to study the impact of social connectivity software capabilities across large scale senior living campuses. While the study included the entire K4Community solution set (including smart home automation, connected wellness, communications and digital services), the focus of the study was to see if technology could help drive activity, enhance communication and improve participation rates among community members. As a large CCRC, Masonic Villages at Elizabethtown had unique needs both in terms of communications and engagement across their massive campus. With numerous events taking place per day and multiple dining options, a solution was needed that could seamlessly improve the flow of communication and information to all residents.

About the Solution

The Participants
Two hundred residents were selected for the study which ran for 6 months from September 2017 until February 2018. The participants were chosen as a representative sample of the larger community. Participants ran the spectrum in both age and prior exposure to technology.

Solutions Deployed
The K4Community solution set provides numerous opportunities for communities to foster engagement and increase communication.  In addition to the content features outlined below, Elizabethtown participants enjoyed the benefits of smart home automation technology in their homes and wellness products like step trackers. The following features are the focus of this study:

Newsletters & Resources – A place for community staff to upload monthly content for residents and family to view.  Content includes newsletters, flyers, maps, resident handbooks, meeting minutes and much, much more.

Menus – One of K4Community’s most popular features, Menus allows staff to upload restaurant menus for residents to view. Not only does this provide a convenience to residents, it also reduces paper printing and provides residents with information before leaving their apartment.

Event Management – The events tile in K4Community gives residents an easy way to stay updated on and sign up for all the great events happening within and outside of the community.  From on campus classes to community trips, staff can provide up to the hour updates and manage waitlists in order to keep residents informed about all the ways to get involved.

Community Notices – Notices give staff an easy and quick way to send updates to residents directly to their K4Community tablet or smartphone. This feature is best used for things like weather updates, cancellations or other community changes.

Community Photos – Community staff has the ability to share photos directly to residents, friends, and family using the Photos feature in K4Community.

Community Directory & Resident Chat – These two features allow residents to communicate easily with one another through voice, text messaging or video chat. The Community Directory serves as a live digital phone book, allowing residents to not only search for, but easily connect with their friends.

Community Surveys – Surveys are a tool staff can use to garner feedback from residents about everything from their thoughts on meals or to providing ratings on entertainment or events.

The Results

A resounding 100% of users who had access to the system accessed it regularly, with more than 50% accessing daily or multiple times per week. Throughout the study, usage across several areas exceeded expectations with 100% of users adopting K4Community.  From menus to newsletters, residents demonstrated clear patterns in the information they were most interested in by their measurable usage habits. The chart below demonstrates usage by feature:The most used features during the study demonstrate the value K4Community can provide to large-scale CCRCs. Using their K4Community Tablets, smart phones, and computers, residents accessed 100% of Menus, Newsletters, Announcements, Community Photos, and Events that were uploaded by Masonic Villages staff. These items were viewed over 30,000 times by residents during the 6-month period of the study, effectively reducing printing costs through digitization. The features accessed also provided staff with the ability to directly communicate with residents, streamlining communication processes and increasing community engagement with more frequency. The communication aspects also enabled staff to collaborate more effectively on event promotion and registration.

Feature Highlights

Menu Viewership
Residents loved being able to view community menus! The trend indicates that as menus were uploaded on a consistent basis by community staff, residents became accustomed to using K4Community for this feature, ultimately creating a positive trend of viewership. This positive reception has led to future K4Community integrations focused on point of sale systems, digital ordering and dining reservation functionalities.

Communication Features & Usage
While resident to resident calls were the most used feature in the suite of communication offerings, text messages and photo sharing also demonstrated high levels of engagement. With nearly 400 instances of resident-initiated communication throughout the duration of the study, Masonic Villages saw increased connection between residents through technology. These functions effectively form the base of an internal, community-wide social network built specifically for Masonic residents and staff.

Conclusions and Learnings

With the implementation of K4Community, Masonic Villages was able to easily provide pertinent information to residents, no matter what part of the community they lived in or their level of technological skill. K4Community’s flexible and user-friendly interface allows for a modernized method of communication that is beneficial for residents and staff of larger communities. The intuitive user experience, coupled with training of residents and staff by K4Connect, helped create a beneficial community experience for Masonic Villages and to integrate the program into the fabric of the community.  By opening up the pipeline of communication, residents were able to make informed decisions about how they’d like to spend their day before ever stepping out of their apartments and cottages.

Furthermore, by providing information about community events directly to through the K4Community platform, staff effectively reduced time spent manually posting this information and saw 100% readership from residents. Providing residents with direct access to updated community information allowed them to make decisions on their own, effectively increasing independence and control over their lives.

The study results have also helped to inform the teams at Masonic Villages and K4Connect about how today’s residents want to access, consume and interact with content and information. Features that did not perform as high as expected did demonstrate interesting use cases. The Notices/Announcements feature was accessed more than 3,000 times even though there were only 18 pieces of content shared during the study. This demonstrates that residents are interested in having access to near real-time news and input from the community versus only relying on standard monthly or weekly newsletters.  A community that chose to rely on the News/Announcements feature could very quickly see a positive ROI due to reduced paper costs and saved staff time currently spent on manually posting announcements.

The next phase of the study will use the usage and feedback data to double down on popular new approaches to communications, continuing to increase our understanding of how older adults prefer to use technology to engage with their community, family, and friends.