Smart use of technology in assisted living can free up team members allowing them to spend more time with residents. Here are some companies that are working to make this happen.

Guest Authors: Katy Fike, PhD & Karen Carpenter On July 30th 2013, PBS Frontline ran a program entitled Life and Death in Assisted Living. In it, Frontline portrays the assisted living industry – and Emeritus Senior Living in particular – as profit-driven, poorly regulated and ill equipped to ensure the safety of increasingly frail and cognitively impaired residents. While the tragic examples featured are certainly not the norm, they raise critically important questions about how quality of care and resident safety in assisted living can be improved. Today, technology-enabled innovation pervades nearly every aspect of life and business. We have increasingly low cost tools at our disposal to automate manual tasks, minimize human error and maximize productivity. Despite tremendous technological advances (e.g. cloud, mobile, social, big data), we have not seen corresponding changes in the way care is provided or technology is used in assisted living and other long-term care settings. At Aging2.0, we believe that thoughtful application of technology can help reimagine the future of aging across long term care and in the community. Technology can be a powerful tool to help minimize human error, increase family and resident engagement and magnify the positive impact of scarce human capital. By allowing technology to do what it does well, we free up the time and energy for care providers to do what humans do best – care and connect. Given Aging2.0’s role in the innovation ecosystem, we meet companies* everyday who are reimagining solutions to unmet needs facing older adults, their families and professional care providers. Below we highlight examples of innovative, tech-enabled solutions to the specific challenges identified in the PBS documentary.

  • Problem: Families in search of senior housing have difficulty finding unbiased information about care options and quality.
  • Problem: Dehydration and urinary tract infections often go unnoticed and untreated, especially among residents with cognitive impairment.
    • Solution: Adult briefs from Pixie Scientific monitor for urinary tract infections and dehydration allowing for early detection and treatment. Pixie Briefs are currently available for pilot users.
  • Problem: Pressure ulcers arise when residents are not properly turned or are left in bed for extended periods.
    • Solution: BAM Labs’ Smart Bed Technology records position changes and monitors time in and out of bed. The system sends automated position change reminders in accordance with best practice standards of care.
  • Problem: Families want insight into daily activities and changes in health status and professional caregivers simply can’t be everywhere at once.
    • Solution: The Lively system captures activity signals from passive sensors, in order to share activity patterns with a set of specific users via a secure “at-a-glance” login accessed through a computer, tablet or smartphone.
    • Solution: Amulyte’s reimagined personal emergency response device operates inside and outside the home, tracks daily activities and shares this information with family and caregivers via a secure online portal.
  • Problem: Facilities need and want an efficient way for their staff to communicate with each other and with residents and their families
    • Solution: CareMerge’s web-based and mobile-enabled solutions provide tools to help operators manage tasks and to enable efficient care coordination among staff and clinicians.  The system also includes family communication and engagement tools.  
    • Solution: The Grandcare system tracks daily activity and digital health sensor information, which can be communicated to caregivers via customized, automated alerts by call, email or text.
  • Problem: Wandering among residents with cognitive impairment
    • Solution: The Filip Watch integrates a smart locator and phone to assist care providers and families in monitoring wandering activity.
  • Problem: Short-staffed facilities have difficulty providing truly individualized, human-centered care
    • Solution: SimpleC Companiontouch screen application provides tools to efficiently create truly personalized audio and visual content to support reminiscence and reminding. The system also includes drug-free, behavioral interventions to address under-stimulation, sundowning and agitation.

Products and services that exist today and those that will emerge tomorrow can help minimize human error, scale limited resources and empower care providers in their pursuit to deliver high quality care. Assisted living facilities that embrace innovation can improve quality of care, decrease costs and increase family engagement. It’s time to push the envelope on technology innovation across the continuum of care in order to create safe, stimulating environments that are high tech and high touch.   *Note: The companies below have either presented at Aging2.0 events around the world or the Aging2.0 founders have met them at other industry events / conferences. Aging2.0 does not have stake in any of the above companies, we just like what they are doing and see the potential for these innovations and many others to reimagine the future of aging.