In neighborhoods created specifically for individuals with memory impairments, technology can play an active role in both the engagement of residents and communication with family members.
But it’s important that technology is used properly – particularly when it comes to resident care.
Technology in a memory care setting should always support a culture of engagement and participation rather than simply providing entertainment, says Lorie Dancy, Vice President of Clinical Services at Solvere Senior Living.
“If technology takes a resident away from participating and being actively engaged,” she says, “that’s when we might shy away from using a device.”
Memory care communities managed by Solvere Senior Living integrate a unique wellness philosophy, called Valeo™, into all aspects of care and service. The philosophy’s programming is adapted to the individual and is focused on increasing awareness, creating purposeful moments, stimulating pleasant long-term memories and providing moments of joy.
Technology for Engagement
Technology doesn’t need to be complex or expensive. Digital music players like iPods allow people to listen to tunes they love, and some free or low-cost tablet or phone apps provide brain puzzles or mimic musical instruments.
If the individual is capable of engaging with an app or device, there’s no harm in using it, Dancy says. All staff in Valeo communities are encouraged to engage with residents, and that can include technology as appropriate. Staff, for example, might ask a resident about his or her favorite artist or musical genre, then pull up a song on their phone.
There is also no one-size-fits-all approach around technology. Some individuals may be more accustomed to using technology in the past, and could benefit more from it than others.
Therefore, if technology us used in one of our communities, it must enhance the Valeo philosophy of engagement.
Technology for Communication
One of the most valuable uses of technology in a memory care setting is maintaining communication with family. Technology offers another avenue to connect beyond only those instances when adult children or family members visit the community.
Several Valeo communities have incorporated the Caremerge system. With it, each family member can download the free Caremerge Family App, and use it to view photos of their parents or loved ones throughout the day and communicate with on-site caregivers via text message.
Technology like Caremerge can also ease feelings of caregiver guilt. Despite the comforts and security that a memory care community can offer, many struggle with the choice to place their parent into a community. Having a technological touchpoint can provide more peace of mind knowing a loved one is only an app-click away.
Caremerge also provides management and program directors with numerous tools to help coordinate events through a central calendar or to communicate with families or other team members.
Before officially incorporating technologies into a community, clinical leadership should assess the service to ensure it will enhance–not take away–from the resident experience. At the end of the day, use of technology in a memory care setting should engage residents with positive, legacy-building experiences and provide another communication channel with families.