Electronics have revolutionized the world of activity programming for independent, assisted living and long term care facilities. From Caretracker for recording residentsâ activity level to Wii's as the way to play games in the 21st century, digital ideas must be part of every activity department! Linked Senior is a way to use technology to create activities customized to individual needs and to empower activity and programming staff.
Linked Senior places touch screen kiosks in common areas of a community. They work 24/7 for use any time by residents, family and staff, alone or together, for a shared experience. The programs can be viewed on large screen televisions or projected onto a blank wall or screen. Program topics include music from jazz to opera, puzzles, trivia, slideshows, videos, reminiscent activities, educational and spiritual experiences and games.
âWe cover any topic. No matter what the background is of the resident and no matter where they are in terms of their physical or cognitive journey, we have or can create something, resulting in a truly person centered experience. It makes it very easy for the staff to get their hands on the information without having to do much research or preparation," said Charles de Vilmorin, Linked Senior CEO.
While at Georgetown University, Charles wrote his thesis on retirement communities. Around the same time, his grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimerâs disease and moved to a nursing home. These two experiences helped Charles realize how lonely, bored and secluded many residents of nursing homes and retirement communities were. Linked Senior was created in 2007, along with partner Herve Roussel, to enhance the quality of the lives of these seniors.
âLinked Senior works with the community's staff and makes activity directors more effective by cutting preparation and research time. We empower front line staff with meaningful tools to address the needs of all residents. Linked Senior is not used as a computer and we do not market it as such. It is an industry specific service to support programming and wellness.
There is no mouse, keyboard or passwords. People do not go out and surf the net or use e-mail with our system. Our system houses everything they need right on the kiosk and through the touch of the screen; they can access games, brain fitness, trivia, slideshows, videos, music and reminiscent activities. If someone used to like visiting museums before they moved into an assisted living and they can no longer do that, they can visit museums all over the world on the kiosk through slideshows. They can visit the Louvre in Paris, the Prado in Madrid, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. They will see pictures of the outside of the building and then âgo insideâ to view the artwork,â de Vilmorin said.
Sharry Henk, Director of Resident Services at The Virginian in Fairfax, Virginia had this to say about Linked Senior.
âOur CCRC has been utilizing the Linked Senior program for about two years with seven kiosks located on all levels of care. The programs are used every day by our activities staff and independently by the residents. From a program preparation perspective, we save a tremendous amount of staff time because games, audio clips, news, music, and visual programs are readily available on each kiosk. We have instant access to activities that focus on themes, holidays, and special events. The programs can be adjusted to accommodate any level of cognition and can be altered to address resident interests at that particular time. During family visits, we find that Linked Senior actually encourages intergenerational interaction because tech savvy individuals are intrigued by the program, and the residents are comfortable using it.â
Bob DeMaria Administrator of Mt. Vernon Nursing and Rehabilitation Center says Linked Senior can engage residents who are often reluctant to join in group activities.
âI have been an advocate of Linked Senior from its early days as I understand the importance of activities for both long and short term patients in our types of communities. Many times new residents or short term rehab residents take a while to integrate themselves into the socialization patterns and rhythms of a community. That doesn't mean they don't want to, just may be shy or more intent on rehab and going home.
Eventually some type of engagement is needed and necessary. Our activity professionals take time during initial family meetings to point out the benefits and features of Linked Senior so that opportunities can be taken when the patient is willing to open up,â DeMaria said.
âWe also take the opportunity during those meetings to find out if grandchildren have an opportunity to visit and sit at the kiosk to play games of all kinds with the grandparent or even great grandparent. We can't draw them out as easily as the child can even if it is just to watch the child play a game by themselves. More often than not, they eventually join in to interact with the child and then they go back to practice, so the next visit, they go right to the games,â DeMaria said.