Ask any senior their go-to device for getting information, and television is their likely answer. According to The Nielsen 2020 Total Audience Report, most seniors spend around seven-and-a-half hours a day with their TV, either actively watching or leaving it on in the background.
Given TV’s popularity among seniors, it seems a natural place for operators and loved ones to engage with residents, through video calls and chat messages, sending reminders and wellness checks, or sharing dining menus and community information.
Yet most TV-based solutions on the market today don’t reflect this potential. Frustration with new technologies — not to mention the audio and visual complications of small screens — is a significant barrier for older adults, creating a “lack of self-confidence and motivation to pursue using the technology,” according to a 2019 Healthcare study.
Thanks to innovations from new players, TV-based solutions are now poised to take center stage in senior living.
“Our patented technology was originally hailed for making TV simpler for everyone in the family to use,” said Ashish Aggarwal, co-founder of Caavo, a TV-connected engagement platform with a successful track record in the consumer electronics industry. “Then we kept hearing from customers who were putting our Smart Remote and HDMI Hub in their parent’s homes. It turns out the simple experience we designed for consumers worked amazingly well for seniors. We realized that we could be helping more people, while also supporting senior living communities in addressing timely and critical issues like social isolation, engagement and critical care.”
By bringing a fresh perspective to TV-connected engagement, new players such as Caavo are beginning to unlock new potential for age-old TV technology. Here are six considerations operators should use to guide their evaluation of these platforms, and a few questions to ask along the way.
Never disrupts what’s playing on TV
Part of the appeal for residents of TV-connected solutions is that they are already familiar with the technology, making for a minimal learning curve. If the system includes new functionality, such as the ability to use voice commands to control the TV, it should make life easier for seniors and not mandate they change behavior.
They should still be able to watch TV as they usually would; the system won’t interrupt what they’re watching, and will instead display text and images on top of any television program, or will preserve them until the TV is turned on.
Questions to ask:
- Does the system use overlays on top of programming so residents don’t have to switch to a certain input?
- Do seniors find the interface intuitive for making video calls, viewing reminders and any other activities?
Works with your current TV infrastructure
Your residents are already using a variety of entertainment providers that are familiar, including cable/satellite, streaming media players, DVD players and game consoles. The right TV-connected engagement system should work with all the devices they are already using, with no need to switch providers or introduce unfamiliar tablets or touchscreen devices.
Question to ask:
- Does the system work with, and control, my existing cable/satellite provider?
Enhances resident communication
From video calling and chat messaging to sharing dining menus and activity calendars, TV-based solutions offer a more comfortable, robust and reliable platform for communicating with residents. Plus, the big screen is easier for seniors to see and hear than most mobile devices.
A resident didn’t respond to their wellness check? Make a quick video call to their TV to check in. Movie night starts in 15 minutes? Notify individuals, groups or the whole community with the push of a button and the message will appear on everyone’s TV.
Questions to ask:
- How will staff share and update community information?
- Can messages be sent to individuals, groups, and/or the whole community?
Guaranteed to work, and without resident action
As your community transitions to more efficient, virtual ways of working, you want the peace of mind that your communication will always be displayed on the resident’s TV screen, without relying upon them to turn on the TV or switch to a specific input.
The most advanced systems on the market today offer both the ability to control the power state of the TV, as well as emergency response capabilities. This will allow staff to automatically start a video call in critical care scenarios without requiring the senior to answer.
Questions to ask:
- Is the system guaranteed to work, show messages and make calls?
- Does the system know whether the TV is powered on? Does it work even if it’s off?
- Can a video call start automatically, without requiring the senior to answer?
Nurtures family connections
Social isolation continues to be a massive problem for operators. A 2018 AARP survey revealed that three in 10 U.S. adults “report lacking companionship, feeling left out or feeling isolated from others” — emotions that only intensified during the pandemic, especially for senior living residents confined during lockdowns.
TV-based engagement technology can make it easier for families to stay connected with their loved ones without having to rely on staff to schedule a video call, set a reminder or troubleshoot TV issues. Seniors can stay more connected when they’re not physically together with family, enjoying their grandkid’s baseball game or piano recital on their big screen.
Families can also remotely control the senior’s TV and create reminders that automatically take actions. A reminder for weekly worship could take the senior directly to the live stream on YouTube, for instance.
Questions to ask:
- Is there a mobile app for family members?
- Does the system offer multiple ways for family members to communicate, such as video calling, chat messaging, and photo sharing?
- Does it allow reminders to automatically take actions?
Gives your community actionable insights
Technology should not just be easy to use, it should empower caregivers to make proactive decisions about residents. Newer TV-based systems use advanced AI technology to interpret and analyze what’s happening on the TV and provide critical data you can use to assess and measure the health and well-being of residents.
As an operator, you can tap into valuable insights related to resident activity and engagement levels, including TV usage, interaction with reminders and community channels, and frequency of communication with staff and family.
Question to ask:
- What type of analytics does the system provide?
This article is sponsored by Caavo. To learn more about how Caavo is bringing TV-connected engagement solutions to senior living, visit seniorliving.caavo.com.
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