Responding to consumer and operational demand, providers plan for technology in the design phase. Share your innovations by entering the Senior Living by Design competition.
Technology rolls forward, driving how we work and also how we live. Community is informed by advances in communication, and wireless connections free us to be more productive. In the changing world of senior housing, designers are finding new and innovative ways to get the most out of today’s ever-improving digital offerings. The ALFA Senior Living by Design Awards competition will bring many of these new innovations to light. (Enter at www.alfa.org/seniorlivingbydesign.)
More than a mere convenience, today’s technology can streamline operations when integrated into the design fabric of community, says Katy Fike, founder of Aging2.0. When designers build around the notion of paperless information flow, “that allows the family to get updates in real time and it also allows for better communications among the staff. It sets people up to capture more data and to be smarter about we use that data,” she says.
Achieving those goals takes some finesse. “There are a variety of challenges, ranging from the structure of the building to the sheer size of the campus,” Hymer continues. As the wireless revolution has unfolded, designers are learning that they must proceed with due diligence if they are to deploy wireless successfully.
Wireless is practically a must, but of equal interest are the application suites. Beyond wifi for resident and family convenience, the right programming can make wireless a powerful business tool. Wireless devices can manage nurse call communications, serve as a traditional voice, and enable immediate 911 calling, for example, but it takes careful designing to build in such capabilities. “If you don’t have it innately built into your architecture, it is very difficult to synch them up. Yet today all these things are being bought separately, rather than as integrated functions,” says Craig Patnode, president of Eldermark. Get it right, and the power of wireless is unleashed toward productive business ends. “The efficiency of the worker becomes the focal point,” he adds.
Responding to consumer demand, operators are incorporating technologies that encourage independence, Fike says. She points to recent innovations that allow residents with tremors to lift their silverware with a steady hand. “If someone is able to feed themselves that is not only great for their own empowerment, but it really can help with staffing needs as well.” Likewise, technologically advanced adult diapers use sensors to detect dehydration and urinary tract infection. This isn’t the technology that makes headlines, but it can make a world of difference for residents, and for operators who incorporate such tools into their design plans.
Legacy systems likely need upgrades. Even recently installed EHR arrangements may not go the last leg, connecting internal data to the outside world. As a matter of IT design, operators need to be thinking two steps ahead as the world adapts to state exchanges.
The annual Senior Living by Design competition honors architects, design firms, and senior living providers that achieve innovative architecture in senior living communities. For your $250 entry fee ($495 for non-members), your project will be reviewed by an expert panel of judges who will choose the projects that best advance excellence in senior housing design.
Winning projects will be featured in the November/December issue of Senior Living Executive and announced to national media. Winning projects will also receive a framed award, promotion in ALFA Update, and extra copies of the November/December issue. Deadline to enter: August 4.
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