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Alexa and Apps and Smart Homes, Oh My!

CARLISLE, PA-Not all residents at the continuing care retirement community Chapel Pointe at Carlisle are using technology. Yet.

The community has created a tech gateway by implementing their own digital app from resident engagement software provider Touchtown. The app delivers community information through modules like Activities, Dining, and Announcements to keep residents engaged with community happenings from the tips of their fingers. They also can connect with neighbors through pictorial directories, request a ride to an appointment, and set up housekeeping in their homes.

It’s easy, too.

“Our Community App offers a breadth of up-to-date information. Easily and instantly accessing this information gives us an added sense of belonging and participation within our community. While we’re here, let’s have fun!” said Chapel Pointe resident Will Blake. “Technology is constantly changing, and we’ve got to keep up. Using the app gives me a greater sense of Chapel Pointe’s excellence. It’s done very well.”

About 56% percent of Chapel Pointe’s Independent Living residents are internet users, and over half of those residents have already begun regularly using the app.

“As we see our more tech-savvy residents using new devices and our Community App, they’re getting their friends excited about technology and creating a culture where people are encouraged to try new things,” said Debbie Sprague, Chapel Pointe CEO. “The quick engagement within the first month illustrates a trend we’ve been observing nationwide: many of today’s seniors want to use technology to meet their everyday needs.”

Chapel Pointe is keeping stride with seniors’ technology needs, and in many cases, inspiring them to stretch out of their comfort zones.

Alongside the app, Chapel Pointe introduced an Alexa Integration. That means residents can access much of the same information hosted in their app through simple voice commands, a major win for people with visual impairments.

Staff did a quick demo with an Echo Dot smart speaker during the launch event for their app, and were blown away by the response from residents afterwards. A handful of residents wanted to get connected with the Echo as soon as possible — even those who had never previously owned a smart speaker.

Chapel Pointe works hard to make technology approachable in their community so they can leverage it to impact resident quality of life even more. Live, video, and written training materials accompanied the app launch, and regular “Tech Talks with Tanner” seminars cover topics from safe internet use to how to purchase a tablet.

At Pointe Place, Chapel Pointe’s new 12-townhome neighborhood, every home is smart-home enabled. While no one has made the leap to utilize this add-on yet, Chapel Pointe is prepared for the future.

“Smart home technology has great potential to keep people in their homes longer, enabling them to age in place safely. Smart devices can compensate for the loss of vision, sight, mobility, and even memory. Imagine recovering in bed after hip surgery and hearing the doorbell ring. With smart home tech, you could use a tablet to see who’s at the door, invite them in, and unlock the door, all from the safety of your bed,” said Sprague.

Tech also works in favor of staff, helping them reduce workload, improve communication, provide excellent care, and spend more valuable time with residents.

For years, Chapel Pointe has utilized the Touchtown TV+ channel to provide an internal television channel that reaches each resident in their home. This service allows staff to communicate with every resident at once. The app was a natural next step that used the same behind-the-scenes framework to communicate with residents in a new way that required minimal training for staff, and maximum impact for residents.

While the Community App launched specifically for independent living residents, Chapel Pointe focuses on technology in all levels of care. The community is currently advancing their medication administration process by using laptops in personal care and even uses robotic pets to calm people in skilled care.

“At Chapel Pointe, we want to utilize every means possible to create a culture where people feel loved and empowered to live a meaningful life, and in many ways, technology helps us to do exactly that,” said Sprague.

Chapel Pointe at Carlisle is a nonprofit continuing care retirement community, which offers two campuses and home care services. Founded in 1944 and affiliated with The Christian and Missionary Alliance, Chapel Pointe provides independent living, personal care, memory support, skilled care, and rehabilitation services within a secure, faith-based, and family-like environment.