Technology is an ever changing phenomenon in our society for the past decade and has infiltrated almost every aspect of our daily life. If you ask our residents, they would never have imagined a computer could exist when they were children and now most of us walk around with a computer so small (cell phones) that they fit in our pockets. Young children today couldn’t imagine a life without these types of devices and it makes me excited to wonder about what is yet to come. It is an exciting time with the technology options that are showing up almost daily. Technology has helped to improve lives in so many ways – improved health care, communication, and information availability are just a few. As with most industries, Madonna Living Community is continually embracing new technology to better serve our residents, family members and staff. I have been fortunate to be Madonna’s CEO/Administrator for the past 18 months and am very proud of some of the technology that we have been able to bring to our community. One year ago we began a journey with Best Buy and the College of St. Kate’s to explore technology for seniors living independently at the Towers. Several residents signed up to have a variety of motion sensors, lighting devices and Amazon’s Alexa installed in their apartments. Nursing students from St. Kate’s worked with the residents and their families to collect data on the impact of this program. The study just finished and we will be presented the results in the next several months. We implemented a Virtual Reality training program for our staff, however this can also be used by family members and students to learn about a variety of diseases. Madonna was part of a pilot program for the Benedictine Health System in which we conducted numerous Virtual Reality sessions with our staff. The Virtual Reality training shows our staff through a series of videos what it is like to be a resident with various stages of dementia, macular degeneration and end of life care. These videos have been very powerful for the staff and created a deeper understanding of the resident’s life with these diseases and conditions.
In the next year, we will be looking at more technology to keep improving the care and services we provide to our residents. We are in the process of selecting new handheld devices for our caregiver staff. This technology will help our caregiver staff to have immediate, up-to-date information on what each residents needs are and be able to document on their cares from where ever they go in our building. These devices will look like phones and may even be cell phones. We have purchased a new program for our residents in the nursing home called It’s Never 2 Late, which is a software program that allows individual residents or groups of residents to play a variety of games and music, take tours of exotic locations, and connect to the internet. Residents can create personalized pages with their own specific content. We will also be purchasing iPads for our residents in Short Stay through this program. This system will be set up in the activity room by the chapel and will hopefully be here by December. We are also looking at a Virtual Reality program for our residents. Research shows that residents who are not able to get outside benefit greatly from entering Virtual Reality environments where they can travel the world. The research shows significant decreases in depression and pain. Technology can be an amazing addition to the work we do and can help create a better experience for our residents, families and staff. In our work, nothing could ever replace the need for human contact, but the technology can help us be more efficient and informed in how we provide care. We thank you for all your support to Madonna Living Community. We wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!
– Christine Bakke, Administrator/CEO