About 90% of seniors intend to remain in their current homes for the next five to 10 years, according to Aging in Place, a seniors and family members resources hub. At the same time, only 43% of seniors over 70 consider it “very easy” to live independently. One of every five Americans will be 65 and older by 2030, the U.S Census Bureau reports. These trends suggest that demand for services associated with aging in place will accelerate steadily in the years ahead.
Technology as a home care tool
Residents and family members opting for home care expect many of the same services and resources that are available from a community. And providers’ home care tasks mirror those executed at a senior living community, such as generating care plans to ensure appropriate treatment, avoiding scheduling conflicts, overseeing remote care delivery with real-time reports, enabling mobile tools for point-of-care charting and minimizing risk with regulatory compliance.
Fortunately, senior living management technology has advanced over the last several years to meet many home care challenges. As provider Comfort Seekers notes, “Technology is an amazing game-changer for helping seniors remain independent, safe and happy in their homes.”
I’ve had the privilege of participating in significant research and development to advancing technology that benefits providers, residents and family members. Listening to senior living community operators and monitoring industry trends gives my colleagues and I an appreciation of what it takes to transfer a senior living community’s resources to the home environment.
That input focused our emphasis on making it easier to schedule, manage and bill for non-medical home care services. Other priorities include convenient electronic charting, direct transmission of task data to the back office for simplified billing and easy access to client records. We also strive to elevate budgeting, oversight and compliance with detailed analytics and instant access to financial data. Industry professionals needing such capabilities are best served by performing all operations on a single connected system for managing care for community residents and their at-home clients.
Innovations move the industry forward
Technology assumed even more importance in senior care with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. As Laurie M. Orlov, principal analyst for market research source Aging and Health Technology Watch, observes, “Technologies like Zoom, FaceTime and more … suddenly became the connective tissue that linked families together and enabled business groups to meet,” including those involved in home care.
She continues, “The pandemic catalyzed simultaneous innovation efforts on multiple fronts – many of the initiatives … will become fixtures within the emerging remote care technology ecosystem.”
Innovations making their way to the marketplace include remotely controlled digital pill dispensers that help family members track medication ingestion; personal help buttons worn by elders that can distinguish between a fall and other movement; multipurpose systems connected to the internet that track oxygen levels, blood pressure and other medical measures while displaying diets, exercises and discharge plans. Such systems also provide a platform for games, music, news, video chat with family members and other diversions.
For our part, Yardi executed several initiatives in addition to At Home Care software solutions that help keep seniors well cared for and their providers able to execute their tasks with minimal disruption. Over the past year, for example, we adopted an interoperability partner that promotes safer clinical care transitions and a skilled nursing platform that streamlines charting and automates assessments. We also unveiled a scheduling and tracking solution that helps staff, residents and families stay connected. One senior housing client documented a twelvefold shortening of its lead response time with our customer relationship management solution.
Additional solutions are in the pipeline and will be revealed as they become available. We will also welcome opportunities to join clients in new initiatives for making recordkeeping, information-sharing and other elements of senior care even more efficient while increasing staff productivity, care plan accuracy and compliance.
Ray Elliott is vice president of senior living for Yardi.