Creating a Technology Ecosystem to Enhance the Resident Dining Experience

Discover how to strategically implement emerging technologies to help improve the lives of seniors in your community, while optimizing efficiencies for greater operational success.
Creating a Technology Ecosystem to Enhance the Resident Dining Experience2 02

Implementing cutting-edge technologies in senior living initially appears straightforward. However, owners and operators soon recognize the multifaceted process involved. This includes identifying opportunities, overcoming challenges, engaging in change management, and evaluating platform compatibility.

Staying ahead in an evolving and competitive market demands adaptability and a keen eye on emerging trends. Ultimately, success hinges on thorough vetting and strategic implementation, despite the initial daunting nature of the task. Yet, the rewards of building a robust technology portfolio are substantial.

Addressing Challenges and Opportunities in Senior Living Technology

The right technologies enhance consumer experiences and operational success. They support team members, automate tasks, and improve communication within dining operations and cross-functional teams, fostering meaningful interactions with residents.

For residents, technology provides a sense of autonomy, promotes healthy aging, and personalizes their digital hospitality experiences by aligning with nutrition plans and preferences. 

In a time when more aging adults are becoming digitally savvy, and communities look to optimize their key differentiator, there is added pressure for senior living communities to catch up with the rest of the world’s use of technology.

Playing catch-up in a time when technology is continuously evolving and becoming more prevalent can be a real challenge. In fact, senior living has historically been slower to adopt technology in comparison to other business sectors. And, as much as one might wish it was as easy as plugging in the power cord and hitting go, there is much more to it.

Infrastructure, cost, and implementation can be a point of contention, acting as a barrier or making it more challenging to determine where to start. 

Today, there are frequent discussions around key opportunities that operators are looking to solve: 

Although these are broadly heard throughout the industry, taking time to do some discovery at the community level can help operators understand the lift. For some, this may be having the proper network and financials to support integration.

Yet, for most, evaluating the team’s capacity is just as valuable. Change can be perceived as disruptive or complex, just as much as necessary.

Team members who have been there for a long time are used to doing tasks a certain way, most likely by hand. Meanwhile, the incoming generations of new employees are digital natives and expect that technology systems will support them in their responsibilities. 

Giving perspective through a scalable approach to change management can help get team members engaged and excited as they recognize the opportunities and see the wins. By conducting regular feedback and focus groups with residents and staff, operators can get a pulse on a user’s level of familiarity and comfortability with technology. 

Woman pays at self checkouts in supermarket.
Engaging Residents and Employees with a Holistic Senior Living Technology Strategy

Feedback loops allow more in-tune responses to the differing needs of back- and front-of-house operations. For example, production in back-of-house simplified by digitizing recipes allows culinary teams to limit the need for recipe printouts, supporting the day’s menu and adhering to the needs of individual diet modifications, with the ability for changes in real-time.

Similarly, digitizing other processes, such as temperature logs, improves compliance and overall productivity as it is no longer a manual task that takes time from one’s day. In line with BOH efficiency, utilizing technology solutions, such as tablet ordering, digital seating charts and POS, gives FOH team members visibility into the resident’s dining experience, allowing for attention to detail and enhanced hospitality.

By examining the various components of operations through data and analytics, operators can better understand workflows, measure efficiencies, stay atop trends within their community, and manage day-in and day-out reporting. Technology can support these evaluations.  

To enhance the resident dining experience might not be as tangible as some of the other metrics around operational efficiency; it is a qualitative metric vital to communities. Seniors are more tech-savvy and have a need for instant gratification, aligning to other customer expectations within other hospitality sectors — immediate, customizable, and quality service.

Utilizing various technologies, residents can instantly see their balances, tune in for upcoming events, explore menu options, and use self-service ordering options. This helps maintain a sense of autonomy and ensures orders will be accurate and expectations met.  

A resident-centric approach to the dining operations technology portfolio guides strategic implementation that aligns with goals around improved experiences and higher engagement. Yet, supporting broader teams within the organization and others is vital to delivering better care to residents.

For example, adopting a mobile ordering strategy serves the initial need of allowing a resident to access information and services frictionlessly. We can also repurpose the strategy to help serve your other caregivers throughout the continuum, including family members.

We must look at technology as a holistic ecosystem. It’s okay if you’re not ready to introduce technology in all aspects of the community. It can be an overwhelming experience, but if looked at holistically from the beginning, it will guide where to start to solve a problem.

Once that’s complete, you’ll be ready to implement the next phase. However, it’s important to remember that just like an ecosystem, things depend on one another, and the most effective use of technology is based on a strategy that allows them to be interconnected.

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Effective Technology Implementation Strategies for Senior Living Communities

Finally, by staying well-informed of insights and trends occurring throughout the broader hospitality sector, operators can better determine which technologies are significantly impacting productivity and the delivery of guest experience and further inform which technologies could have potential in senior living.

About CCL Hospitality Group

CCL Hospitality Group is a nationwide leader in culinary and support services with four distinct operational companies – Morrison Living, Unidine, Coreworks, and The Hub. We provide modern world-class hospitality infrastructure, talent, and innovation. We are shaping the industry’s future leaders with a culture of service focused on elevated hospitality offerings for community living across the country. Learn more here.

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