Senior living technology is more relevant now than ever before because older adults are not the techno-phobic demographic you may have believed them to be. Data shows that older adults are using technology now more than ever. 87% of older adults believe senior living technology could help them adjust into aging with confidence. To remain competitive, senior living communities must adopt new senior living technology focused on making aging easier for their residents.
Many products have been developed over the years — personal alarms, monitoring devices, mobility aids, software apps and smart home tech — but these technologies often fall short of expectations, as product development doesn’t seem to take the end-user experience into consideration. Engineers, data scientists, or product developers rightly focus on technical objectives and outcomes when creating such products, but often lose sight of the end-user in the process. This leads to products that may be effective, but are difficult to operate, hard to understand, or stigmatizing to use.
When evaluating potential technological solutions for your community, make sure you not only look at marketed results and cost savings, but also assess added value to residents and care staff, methods of design and development, and the support you’ll receive in the years to come.
Use these 5 essential steps to evaluate the quality of senior living technology you’re considering:
Was the product designed and developed with an understanding of end-user needs? Did product developers take time to understand what’s personally meaningful, frustrating, or important to the end-user? When evaluating a product, ask how developers decided to incorporate different aspects of their design. The design of a product should be influenced by conversations with older adults and staff members, prototyping, and user testing. If it wasn’t, ask why!
Is the product simple? Will your residents and staff be able to use it effectively? Technology should never sacrifice simplicity. To assess ease-of-use, ask developers how long the product takes to install, understand, and use. This should give you a good understanding of how complicated the product actually is.
3. Look & Feel
Consider the look of the product: is it something you would use yourself? Would it look nice in your own home? It is important to consider the look and feel of a product to ensure your target user will embrace it. If it feels silly to wear, if it looks cheap, or makes a bedroom look like a hospital room, then chances of successful user acceptance, adoption, and adherence go down.
Ask the developers about the future they see for their product, and what additional features are on the product roadmap. A high-quality product will constantly be reassessed and improved to create better user experiences. Research and development is a continuous process— there is always room for improvement. Ensure the technology is constantly monitored by developers for additional value-add features. Don’t settle for stagnant products or technologies.
What happens when a product breaks or is not working? How seamless is the customer support experience, and who is fixing the problem? Make sure receiving support is something you, your care staff, and residents would be able to do with ease.
There are many products claiming incredible results, so deciphering which is best can be challenging. Use this framework to evaluate the quality of technology for your care community!