How Medical Grade Wi-Fi® can Help Increase Occupancy Rates in Senior Living

How Medical Grade Wi-Fi® can Help Increase Occupancy Rates in Senior Living

They’re an easy target for late night talk show hosts and bemused younger adults, but seniors aged 70 and older are more dialed in and technologically adept than they’re given credit for. A recent AARP study found that adults 50+ currently spend $640 million on tech devices alone. Experts predict that as Baby Boomers age that figure will grow to $84 billion by 2030.

Busting the myth of an inept older generation unsure how to navigate “the internets” is a must for senior living providers who need to understand their older adult consumers if they hope to capture more of this important market share.

Senior Living Occupancy Rates

Senior living occupancy rates have remained relatively stable since the high of 90.2% in the fourth quarter of 2014. But there was a softening in the 1st quarter of 2019, with the rate dropping 2.1 percentage points to 88.1 and another .3% in the 2nd quarter to 87.8%. The numbers vary greatly from market to market with analysts pointing to factors like new zoning and regulations, shifting demographics, and local economic performance.

What do all these statistics really add up to? Senior housing occupancy is at its lowest level since the 2nd quarter of 2011. This changing landscape in senior living presents a real challenge to operators who must continually seek out and offer new amenities that seniors demand and can afford while creating a revenue stream that supports their implementation.

The Benefits of Custom Designed Medical Grade Wi-Fi®

Wi-Fi is a hot topic in senior living these days. Sadly, the talk is often centered on how frustrating it is. Medical Grade Wi-Fi®, much like enterprise wireless infrastructures that businesses use, can be the starting point for occupancy success. It offers senior communities a valuable opportunity to provide better care and enhance the quality of life for their residents which, of course, makes their properties more appealing.

Benefits include:

  • High capacity, high-reliability networks that can handle large numbers of devices.
  • HIPAA-compliant security.
  • Seamless, wall-to-wall coverage to ensure the ability to roam across the facility without losing signal.

Medical Grade Wi-Fi® is also designed to eliminate single points of failure and deliver signal strengths of -65dB or greater. And with maintenance and service as well as 24/7 monitoring services included in the cost, the service more than pays for its implementation.

Senior Living Communities are Listening

As the next generation of seniors makes the move to assisted living, many senior communities are transforming themselves to meet their residents’ tech expectations. High on the list is quality internet service that includes campus-wide wireless capabilities. That over 80% of CFOs surveyed said they have invested in internet connectivity over the past year shows communities are listening and working to deliver what seniors are looking for. This investment can be an important differentiator when trying to appeal to new residents.

Keeping up with the latest technologies and the changing demands of seniors is imperative if you want to keep housing options enticing to new residents. Moving forward, winning communities will be those who understand giving residents what they truly value is a great way to make their property more attractive, improve resident retention, and increase occupancy rates.

Contact HealthSignals today to learn more.

5 Ways to Improve Senior Quality of Life With Technology

5 Ways to Improve Senior Quality of Life With Technology

Seventy percent of U.S. seniors are now online. Internet-connected devices are a part of their daily lives and they use them to stay informed, connect with family and friends, make travel plans, and more.

Research shows that aging, health issues, and technology will be completely linked in the future. The myths surrounding older adults’ limited adoption and use of technology are being challenged as we speak. One thing is abundantly clear: seniors like technology and are increasingly incorporating digital and voice-activated tech into their lives.

Here are five ways senior living communities can help improve the quality of life for their residents through the use of technology.

1) Wearables

Apple watches, Fitbits, and other Wi-Fi enabled wearables fall under the broader category of the Internet of Things (IoT). Some continuing care retirement communities are using wearables in place of or to complement nurse call systems to signal an emergency. These health-tracking devices make it easy for staff to reliably monitor conditions like blood pressure, heart rate, sleep patterns, and more.

2) IoT Devices

Tablets, TVs, and healthcare smart devices are some of the fastest growing sectors of IoT for seniors. Many of these conveniences serve dual purposes:

  • Smart water bottles monitor how much water a person drinks each day and sends that data to a health-tracking app.
  • Smart thermostats let residents use their phone or tablet to adjust the temperature of the room without having to get up, preventing falls in the middle of the night.
  • Voice-command lights also help prevent falls by increasing visibility.

Seniors also use IoT devices to monitor smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and track air quality changes.

3) Making Everyday Tasks Easier

Bathroom aids, medication management, and smart kitchen gadget are just a few of the digital devices that make everyday tasks easier for seniors.

  • Wayfinding software guides residents and visitors indoors and out.
  • Hospital-grade fitness equipment keeps residents limber while also diagnosing medical condition, preventing health problems, and tracking physical therapy success.
  • Kindles, Nooks, and other eReading devices offer a huge supply of educational and entertaining books, magazines, and newspapers.
  • AI-enabled personal assistants like Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana do everything from reminding residents when to take their medications to filling them in on the day’s weather or latest sports news.

Other handy digital helpers include mobile keyless entry, interactive touchscreens for videoconferencing, and streaming services for watching TV and movies or listening to music.

4) Cameras

It isn’t a happy topic, but elder abuse is a real issue for many seniors. It’s estimated that one in 10 adults over the age of 60 faces neglect and/or physical, emotional, sexual, or some other form of abuse. Cameras help families or caretakers make sure seniors are being treated properly. They’re also great for helping healthcare providers track a resident’s movements.

5) Phone Apps

One of the biggest advancements in technology are phone apps that collect important information that can be transmitted to doctors, nurses, or community staff. Simpler apps keep seniors occupied and engaged with fun games, brain teasers, and social media accounts.

Connected devices designed to increase resident happiness and personal satisfaction require a strong Wi-Fi solution that’s reliable 24 hours a day. Medical Grade Wi-Fi® offers 99 percent reliability and is HIPAA compliant. To learn more, contact HealthSignals today.

4 Ways Cellular Boost Solutions Improve Senior Living

4 Ways Cellular Boost Solutions Improve Senior Living

Cell phones are no longer a luxury; they’re essential. More people than ever rely on cell phones as their primary means of communication. They can help you keep you in touch with loved ones, healthcare providers, and coworkers for a healthier, more connected life.

Unfortunately, many senior living facilities don’t have adequate reception, which can limit residents’ and the staff serving them, abilities to communicate. Here are just a few of the ways that a cellular boost solution can help to improve the lives of those in senior living.

1. Connect with Loved Ones

Phones are designed to keep people connected. You can text, send pictures, video chat, browse social media, and play games with loved ones from all over the world.

For many seniors, cell phones have become the primary method of communication with their family members. Studies have shown that 91% of people 65 and older own cell phones and 53% own smartphones. But without service, seniors can’t connect with their loved ones. This is even more evident in the time of COVID-19 when for seniors in quarantine, the only means of connecting with their loved ones may be via mobile technologies.

A cellular boost solution can give seniors the gift of communication. They’ll be able to interact with their friends and family members for a happier, healthier senior living experience.

2. Talk to Healthcare Providers

Next to their families, seniors also need to be able to communicate with their healthcare providers. Speaking to a specialist is quick and easy with a cell phone. They’re easier to use and eliminate the need to remember names and numbers. Simply push a button and you’re connected.

Many doctors, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, are starting to rely on telehealth options to treat patients. But dropped calls or poor video quality act as a hindrance to providing the same quality of care as face to face. With a strong cellular signal, seniors can use their smartphones to meet with their doctors virtually, removing the need for transportation or risk of infection.

3. Stay Mentally Active and Entertained

Cell phones aren’t just good for communication; they can be used for entertainment as well. In a senior living environment, staying active and engaged is of the utmost importance, and studies have shown that mobile apps and online brain games can improve the cognitive abilities of seniors.

Downloading apps and playing online games use a lot of data and require a strong cellular signal. A cellular boost solution can help seniors stay online and engaged to stay sharp.

4. Facilitate Staff Communication for Better Care

Residents aren’t the only ones who rely on strong cell signal to communicate. Staff members frequently rely on their cell phones for updates in the form of texts, calls, or emails. For healthcare workers, not being able to get information in a timely manner can be dangerous. Having a strong cell signal can facilitate internal communication so healthcare workers can provide better, more efficient care for residents.

Cellular Boost Solutions for Better Senior Living

Everyone needs to be able to interact with their loved ones. For people in senior living, this isn’t as simple as it seems. Having access to a strong signal from a cellular boost solution can make all the difference. Residents will love being able to connect with their loved ones and healthcare providers, and the staff will be able to utilize the stronger signal to facilitate internal communications for improved patient care. A cellular boost solution is the perfect way to improve the lives of those in senior living. Contact HealthSignals here to learn more about our cellular boost solutions

New Healthcare Technology Funding: Does Your Center Qualify for the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program?

New Healthcare Technology Funding: Does Your Center Qualify for the FCC COVID-19 Telehealth Program?

The pressures of COVID-19 are forcing us to rely on telehealth now more than ever. Companies and care facilities of all kinds have had to adapt their practices to support new telehealth solutions, but many of these solutions are costly and out of reach for struggling facilities.

To help, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently adopted a $200 million COVID-19 Telehealth Program to aid healthcare facilities in providing better telehealth services to their patients.

Who’s Eligible?

The program is open to non-profit and public healthcare providers who meet certain criteria defined in the 1996 Telecommunications Act. Generally, funding will be available to the following facilities:

  • Not-for-profit hospitals and health clinics
  • Local health departments
  • Senior living centers and community health centers
  • Rural and non-rural health clinics
  • Skilled nursing facilities

Note that this is not an exhaustive list, and all non-profit or public healthcare clinics are welcome to apply to the program. However, all applicants will need to receive an eligibility assessment from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) before being accepted.

Which Services and Devices Are Covered?

The program will help providers pay for devices and services that are necessary for providing remote health services to patients in response to the COVID-19 outbreak such as:

  • Health monitoring tools such as pulse oximeters
  • Information and connectivity services, including Medical Grade Wi-Fi and voice services
  • Connected devices, including tablets and smartphones that enable connected care at home

All devices must be digitally-connected and integral to patient care to be considered.

Can I Improve My Odds of Getting Approved?

Although the FCC will make the final call on all applications, they’ll be using certain criteria to assess each applicant’s needs:

  • Local conditions and severity of COVID-19 impacts in the region
  • The amount of funding allocated for vulnerable or high-risk patients
  • The goals, objectives, and timeline of each applicant’s funding strategy
  • The geographic size of each region and its existing healthcare infrastructure

Overall, these regulations are designed to ensure that support is given to the areas hit hardest by the pandemic, as well as to facilities that require telehealth services to protect high-risk patients.

How Does Reimbursement Work?

Note that the COVID-19 Telehealth Program isn’t a grant. Applicants accepted to the program will need to provide invoices and other documentation for each of the products or services that they purchase. In addition, they may need to adhere to other FCC reporting requirements as noted in the program guidelines.

How Do I Start?

Healthcare facilities interested in the reimbursement program can’t afford to wait. Here’s a quick rundown of what you need to get started:

If you’re a senior living facility who needs help navigating your application, contact us at HealthSignals and we’ll be happy to walk you through the details.

The Updated Maslow’s Pyramid: How Your CCRC Needs to Respond.

Updated Maslow's Pyramid.Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a psychological theory outlining what we, as human beings, need to survive and thrive. For those unfamiliar with it, the model is structured as a pyramid. Our most pressing needs are the pyramid’s base, involving our physiological needs: food, water, shelter, etc. As the pyramid climbs, we reach more psychological needs: accomplishment, creativity, and so on.

It’s a popular model for understanding human needs, but here’s the problem. The theory was developed by Abraham Maslow all the way back in 1943—well before the advent of tech like home computers, smartphones, or Wi-Fi. And while these gadgets might just seem like novelties, for certain populations–like continuing care retirement communities (CCRCs)—this access can save lives.

Updating Maslow: Access to Services

It’s a little tongue-in-cheek to lump Wi-Fi in there with food and water, but jokes aside, there’s a strong case for updating Maslow’s Hierarchy with access to essential tech services—particularly for CCRCs.

Senior living facilities are powered by technology. Research by Pew found that a full 67% of seniors use the internet these days, and over 51% of seniors have high-speed internet at home. And should these seniors move into assisted living facilities, you can bet that they’ll expect the same quality of life as they’re accustomed to.

And really, why wouldn’t they? They’ll still need to keep in touch with friends and family over FaceTime or Skype, and they will still need access to all of the entertainment they enjoy at home. These used to be luxuries, but today, they are essential services that every connected CCRC should offer.

This connectivity is important from a resident satisfaction standpoint, but just as important are the ways that connected facilities support better resident care. When you consider the value of connected medical facilities, it’s not a stretch at all to imagine connectivity’s place in Maslow’s Hierarchy.

Supporting Physician/Resident Relationships

Medical Grade Wi-Fi® plays a powerful role in telemedicine and the physician/resident relationship.

In one survey of U.S. physicians, 93% of those who used telemedicine applications agreed that it helped improve patient access to care, and 77% agreed that the applications helped both patient and provider better manage their time.

With the right communications tool behind them, CCRCs can ensure that their residents enjoy the benefits of high-speed internet while enabling new types of physician outreach. For example, the fast transfers offered by fiber optic Wi-Fi makes it easy for residents to call their physicians, video conference, receive/transmit medical imagery, share files, and more.

Through this approach, CCRCs can differentiate themselves (and increase occupancy rates) by positioning themselves as enhanced facilities offering a higher standard of care.

Future-Proofing With Quality Care

Telemedicine is the way the world is moving, and patients of all ages are taking advantage. CCRCs are no exception. Facility owners should take a look at their current infrastructure and what Wi-Fi enabled services they offer. We’re willing to bet there’s some room for new services—and these services may completely change the way you deliver care.

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Medical-grade Wi-Fi for Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Long-Term Post-Acute Care Facilities

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