Elderly institutes can greatly benefit from this technology

Elderly institutes can greatly benefit from this technology
More and more, nursing homes and other elderly care institutes are relying on technologies, such as facial recognition, panic buttons and fall detection sensors, to help prevent accidents, quicken response times and improve management.
 
But aside from these, another technology that is gaining popularity is voice recognition. “One of the hottest trends in senior technology right now is ‘voice-first’ solutions, which refer to technology platforms that are primarily controlled by the user’s verbal commands like Alexa and Google Home,” said Alden Warr, VP of Finance and Strategic Partnerships at VoCo.
 
According to Warr, traditional screen-based technology has struggled to find wide-spread adoption in the senior living space, as many seniors find screens hard to read, typing cumbersome and operating systems nonintuitive.
 
“There are a variety of technology-based solutions that aim to alleviate some of the workload placed on often overworked staff. However, the sticking point in all these technology solutions is whether or not the residents of these communities will actually use them,” Warr said.
 
This is where voice-based technologies can come in handy.
 
“The conversational nature of voice-first platforms is intuitive and easy to use for seniors. This fit promises to open up the world of technology and connection to seniors and the communities they live in,” Warr said.
 
“Platforms like Alexa offer nearly unlimited music, games and entertainment, making seniors much more likely to utilize custom applications built on top of the platform that are designed to help staff provide better care to their residents. These applications include residents being able to hear about the community’s menu and activities without nursing staff having to answer the same questions over and over; automatic catalogs of medical histories and nurse visits; and the ability for seniors to call the front desk from anywhere in their apartment in case of fall or other health concern.”
 
Given voice technologies’ popularity, a lot of elderly care institutes were using them to set themselves apart, Warr said. “Senior living communities across the country are working with a small handful of voice-first providers to experiment with security automation, smart home design, calendar integration and much more to enrich their residents’ lives, increase facility efficiency and differentiate themselves from their less advanced competitors,” he said.
 

Ongoing challenges

 
While technologies do bring certain benefits to elderly care institutes, some are still hesitant to adopt them.
 
In particular, economic factors remain a huge obstacle for cash-strapped institutes with acute budget constraints. In Taiwan, for example, it’s common for some senior day care centers to collect US$300 to $700 per month per individual, in addition to a couple of hundreds of dollars in government subsidies for each individual. This isn’t a lot of money, and as a result institutes’ willingness is low to automate processes via technology, which not only involves hardware but also the whole network infrastructure.
 
Warr said “although elderly care represents a rapidly growing industry, many providers do not feel like the margins support a lot of experimentation with new technologies. Providers are in an interesting situation where they recognize the need for new technology to scale and compete at the level that is required by the demand but their experience with past, screen-based technologies have been poor and they don’t have the time or money to experiment with technology that may fail,” adding “This is why new technologies have to provide clear messaging around their services’ proven benefits and provide exceptional support with their early adopters.”
 
Amit Shamiss, Business Development Manager at Essence Smart Care, said “the challenges can be commercial. The institutions should define the right business models to support this uptake and the right technological infrastructure for their specific facility.”


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