More and more seniors are going digital. Once there was a chasm between older adults and technological advancements such as social media and VOIP services like Skype. Not anymore. In fact, as the baby boomers age, there more and more solutions for technology and senior living aimed at improving their lives.
That’s just what’s happening at Weatherly Inn, a senior living community in North Tacoma. Technology is working each and every day to improve the lives of Weatherly Inn residents in ways you might not guess. As 2017 gets going, Weatherly Inn has new tech upgrades to improve the care and quality of life of its residents as well as its professional support services.
“Technology is allowing us to raise our level of excellence for our residents, their families, and our staff. There are three main areas that we have invested in technology: resident quality of life, medical care, and business services,” states Brandon Beebe, Marketing Director at Weatherly Inn.
Technology Improves Quality of Life at Weatherly Inn
When you think of senior living, you might not immediately think of technology…but think again. Weatherly Inn’s buildings are completely wired, with Wi-Fi available for all residents and staff to use. While Wi-Fi may sound pretty routine, the changes it has brought to senior living are monumental. Residents can use Wi-Fi, as well as computer terminals located in the library, to connect with family near and far. Seniors can Skype with grandkids across the country, family who are deployed overseas, or even meet a new family member.
Only a few years ago, those same seniors may not have been able to meet a new grandchild until family could afford to travel, or sometimes not at all.
For residents who might not know how to use Skype, email or other online tools, Weatherly Inn’s activities department is there to help with classes or individual help. And technology doesn’t just impact the lives of families far apart. It can also serve as a bridge between generations during family visits to Weatherly Inn.
“If you’re intentional about technology use, it really can help bring families together,” says Beebe. “We’ve seen visiting families using the Wi-Fi connection a lot, especially during the holidays. Families come to visit and there might be a big group of kids, they can play their favorite game with grandma or grandpa. It gives them something to talk about and a way to create a shared experience.”
Of course, sometimes technology has a pretty practical use too. One of the library terminals is a memory terminal with a program called [m]Power Brain Fitness installed to help keep minds active and keep dementia from setting in. Brain fitness is a key component for staving off dementia symptoms and increasing overall quality of life.
Technology Improves Quality of Care at Weatherly Inn
Technology also helps Weatherly Inn lead the way in the quality of resident care. Weatherly Inn nursing and care staff are aided through two types of technology: electronic medical administration records (eMAR), and electronic health records (EHR).
“Because the quality of resident care is a priority, we have invested in integrated care systems. These tools allow us to create a daily care plan for every resident, which incorporates everything from HIPPA compliant medical records, medication administration, health care provider management, to automated pharmacy tracking and ordering,” explains Beebe. “These tools allow us to give premier-level medical care, which reduces medication errors and allows residents to rest easy knowing that nursing professionals are overseeing their care 24 hours a day. We also equip our nursing and care staff with Wi-Fi connected tablets so that records are updated immediately, reducing input and transcription errors. This kind of quality healthcare is just not available with in-home care, group homes and even in many assisted living communities. The health and vitality of each of our residents is top priority at the Weatherly.”
This method of integrating records together is not only an asset to the nursing team at Weatherly Inn, but completely changes the game for residents who need to visit the hospital or decide to transfer somewhere else. So long as a resident (or family, if they have medical power of attorney) has granted permission, Weatherly Inn can share or transfer medical records that show the resident’s full medical history.
“It allows us to give our care providers some really good information, but it also helps our nursing staff to know exactly what’s going on,” says Beebe.
Technology Improves Business Practices at Weatherly Inn
Like most businesses, Weatherly Inn is always working to make everyday business run more efficiently, and often technology has an important role to play in this process. “We continue to invest in technological upgrades for our communities that in the long term allow us to offer a better quality of life at a reduced cost. And as a family-owned and operated organization, we can then pass those savings onto our residents,” explains Beebe.
In 2017, the company will make great strides in this area and is partnering with other regional businesses to innovate.
“At the end of 2016, we worked with a local IT consultant to transfer our entire organization to GSuite by Google. GSuite integrates, email, document storage, digital security measures and real-time work collaboration tools. We are looking forward to the work effectiveness and financial benefits of the whole company being on an integrated system. For a company with a couple hundred employees, these upgrades are changing the way we do business.”
Another innovation that’s underway is a partnership with Lone Fir Creative to implement inbound marketing through HubSpot. “We are using inbound marketing through HubSpot to change the way we connect with potential residents in ways that make it easier to find the right senior living solution,” says Beebe. “It helps us establish a relationship with future clients before they actually need us. In the future, we will be offering critical information such as how-to guides on medical care, personal finance, and legal issues. We are a resource for life after 60. We help people before they’re actually living here. We’re also a resource to the community at large.”