Give Residents an Opportunity to Share Knowledge on Tech
Although consumer tech companies are increasingly looking for ways to tailor their devices to better accommodate older adult needs, many communities still struggle to find the right solutions.
One strategy is to designate resident tech experts, or “super champions” for peer-to-peer guidance. Exploring in-house and third-party training options is also helpful.
At Phoenix-based Sun Health Communities, the small computer labs at each location have become gathering places that organically spawned unofficial computer clubs. Those connections laid the groundwork for a formal club with help from Sun Health, says Chip Burns, the organization’s CIO.
“They own it, but we’ll provide them with additional services — such as a better, more expansive lab for them,” Burns said in a recent conversation. That platform, he adds, helps build critical mass for educational seminars and important cybersecurity training.
Another positive: Sun Health has seen an influx of residents who once were engineers or worked in Silicon Valley. This knowledge base offers a lifeline to the communities’ IT staffers, who can pass that information along to other members of the community.
Tech-Savvy Older Adults Still Have a Need for Tech Support
As younger baby boomers retire, the demand for useful tech and related support will continue to grow. Senior care communities must be prepared.
“We realize that technology for seniors is an important element for our community,” says Burns. “The expectation and need for support for residents’ own technologies is critical. And as the demand for smart technology within their living space gets bigger, our ability to help them with that tech is a necessity.”
To that end, Burns suggests allocating a certain percentage of a full-time employee’s time to dedicated tech support for residents. Larger communities, he says, should offer dedicated lines of support for residents.
Sun Health offers new residents four tech support tokens upon their arrival, with each token worth 30 minutes of IT service. Residents may purchase additional tokens that can cover anything from installing anti-virus software to installing smart lightbulbs.
The community has also enlisted the help of area high schoolers. Residents enjoy engaging with the tech-savvy teens, Burns says, and it offers students a way to earn community service hours while lowering Sun Health’s IT costs — another win among many.
By keeping older adults’ tech needs front of mind, senior living communities have a prime opportunity to ensure high quality of life and better care. That’s something we all can agree on.