This is the whole paradigm shift with senior living. We have to think way further out from the box than we ever had to before in order to survive.

By Susan Saldibar

When Stacey Judge, Wellness Program Director for Springpoint Senior Living, sat down to do a deep dive of the Touchtown platform at one of their communities, she discovered a tool box full of useful applications, few of which the staff was using. But they would be soon.

Springpoint, as you may know, is New Jersey’s largest not- for- profit provider of senior housing, with locations throughout New Jersey and Delaware. Stacey was behind the design and development of their successful LivWell program. LivWell takes a whole person approach to wellness, with an emphasis on residents’ desires, dreams, and needs. Touchtown (a Senior Housing Forum partner) has proven to be an important conduit for LivWell, connecting residents to its robust community programming, as well as to each other, families, and staff members.

Recently, Stacey sat down with Christian Kratsas, Director of Marketing at Touchtown, and Brittany Barr, Marketing Coordinator. “We asked Stacey to share how resident engagement technology is directly driving innovative programming, wellness participation, and successful aging at Springpoint communities and beyond,” Christian tells me. And her story is pretty compelling. Here are a few notable experiences:

Putting time “back into the pockets” of staff.

Before the adoption of an automatically generated calendar, “the activity directors were still going into a publisher program and designing calendars from scratch every month,” Stacey says. In an effort to reduce time-consuming edits, revisions, and overall administrative burden, their team began employing a dynamic calendar. In regards to publishing a schedule of activities, programming, dining, and more, “all you have to do is check this box and it populates the calendar; it was like magic!”

This was a game changer for the staff at Springpoint. “The phrase that I’ve used for the last two years is that it really puts time back in the pockets of our staff,” Stacey says. Now, the tasks that needed to be tackled separately are all integrated; a one stop shop, as Stacey refers to it. And the agility of the Touchtown Content Manager makes last minute changes easy. “If a room is going to be unavailable, you can instantly switch to another room,” she says. And it’s reflected in real time on the calendar, as well as digital signage, website, and more. It has also allowed them to increase the number of activities they display. “Many times, things were left off the calendar because there wasn’t enough room.” Now, that’s never an issue.

Inspiring residents to become more “tech savvy” and enjoying it.  

Some of the Springpoint residents are clearly more tech savvy than others. But, in some cases, residents can be held back by staff who assume they aren’t interested. “Staff members would say, ‘Our residents aren’t ready for that.’ But as soon we’d tell them it integrates with Alexa, the hands would go up, ‘Oh my son got me one for Christmas. Can I use it?’,” Stacey says. Plus, Touchtown technology is easy to use, regardless of technological aptitude. Simply by entering a unique PIN into their Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, they can ask things like, “What’s happening at my community today?” And through Community Apps, they can access exercise videos, tips, healthy recipes and so on.

Touchtown apps and voice-assistant integrations are increasingly becoming a gateway to using technology for residents. Stacey sees them getting out their laptops, tablets and starting to learn all kinds of new things, bolstered by the ease of using, and choosing, a Touchtown platform that aligns with their technological aptitude.

Reducing the sense of isolation.

Having Touchtown has helped many residents who might otherwise become isolated to get out of their rooms and join in more activities, Stacey told the Touchtown team. Showcasing photos of past events in their rotation of slides has made a big difference. It’s proving to be an engagement-driver for residents and, as Stacey believes, a strong deterrent to isolation.

Using Touchtown with Alexa has also helped keep vision impaired residents from feeling isolated. “Having Alexa connected to Touchtown in their apartments has been an absolute motivator for them to come out and join an activity. It’s definitely increased engagement,” Stacey says. “Enhanced communication leads to more engagement; more engagement combats isolation. One leads to another,” she adds.

What’s on the horizon?

Stacey is confident that Touchtown will play a key role in Springpoint’s recently launched membership program, Springpoint Choice. Using a “CCRC without walls” model, Springpoint Choice allows people to stay in their homes and still connect to the community offerings. So, when the time comes to access services or even make a move to a community, they already have a relationship with Springpoint. Stacey believes that this “virtual community” helps Springpoint to create a stronger brand outside their doors.

She also looks forward to Touchtown’s new Activity Management program which will enable Springpoint to track health, wellness, and fitness programming within Touchtown as well. “It will be a wonderful enhancement to see which programs are thriving, which ones need changing, as well as gathering data, tracking outcomes, and defining benchmarks,” she says.

Any words of advice for other communities?

Communities need to be able to react quickly to trends, Stacey advises. Technology is a big part of that. “It will bridge the gap between today’s 90 year olds and the younger cohort of residents who move in,” she says. “The expectations of those moving in five years from now will be much higher. They’ll be used to wearables, push notifications, and so on,” Stacey says. Communities need to look forward and plan for that, and beyond.

And there is one more comment which bears noting. Stacey made a great point early in the discussion about the challenges of today’s senior living. “This is the whole paradigm shift with senior living. We have to think way further out from the box than we ever had to before in order to survive,” she says. “We have to start embracing the options that enhance communication, expand programming, and drive all the great things we’re doing outside our gates.”

For more information about Touchtown, please visit their website.

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