Some technology you need and some you don’t.

Several months ago I received an email from reader David Searles of the Searles Foundation, telling me they were building some new communities and wanting to know my thoughts around appropriate technology. I shot him a quick response with a list of things I thought he should have.

Then I got to thinking, I should really toss this question to my “go to” technology expert Troy Griffiths, the CEO of Vigil Health Solutions, a Senior Housing Forum Partner.  Here are his thoughts:

It Depends

Troy’s first response was that it depends on several factors:

  • How many residents you will be serving
  • The levels of care (independent living, assisted living, memory care, skilled care)
  • Whether you are doing new construction or remodel or retrofit
  • Operating priorities
  • Regulatory requirements
  • Budget

The Systems Worth Considering

  • Emergency Call – Emergency call is a hugely important safety system that needs to be selected with great care. With a retrofit, it almost always makes more sense to use a straight wireless system, primarily because of the cost of installation. However, Troy feels very strongly that with new construction a hybrid system is the right way to go. 

What he means is that call stations that won’t move, like bathroom pulls, common area stations, smoke detectors and door monitoring should be hardwired. At least with the Vigil system, the modest increased cost of installation is more than offset by the reduced costs of wired devices.  Long-term there are fewer batteries to replace and because wired devices are less complex, they will last longer and are less expensive to replace.

The things that need to move, like resident pendants and chair fall monitoring should be wireless because that provides residents the right mix of freedom and safety.

He also made note that owners should pay particular attention to specialized call systems for unique resident groups, like the Vigil Dementia System.

  • Pervasive Wireless Internet (wifi) – Troy recalled the days when finding public wifi was a huge challenge, but today it hardly matters where you go, you can find wireless access and most of the time that access is free. He finds it curious that senior living has been so slow to adopt wireless internet technology. It often serves to provide a daily portal between residents and distant (or nearby) family members. It is also something that residents and family members are coming to expect. On the community operations side, there is tremendous growth in cloud-based services, such as EHR that require wifi.

I did ask Troy about wifi and call systems.  His response was that it is a more complex discussion than can fit in this article.  It will be the subject of a future article.

Steve Moran

Part 2 will conclude our conversation and will include: access control, fire alarm integration, EHR, wander management, CRM, staffing solutions, staff communication and activity/bio metric monitoring.