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Holiday AL Management Sub, LLC | 631 W Morse Blvd, Winter Park, FL 32789 | HolidaySeniorLiving.com
Most of us would agree that technology can simplify everyday tasks—such as finding the information we seek faster, organizing our appointment schedule, connecting with others who share the same interests, and so much more. At our senior living communities, we consistently focus on empowering residents to make the most of their senior years by embracing an active lifestyle; so, it made sense to develop the Holiday365 app to help enrich their lives even more.
Debunking the Technology Myth (About Older People)
Since its introduction, the positive response to the app debunked the myth that most seniors do not embrace technology. “You can't put all 70 to 80-year-olds living in senior housing in the same bucket and paint them as adverse to technology,” says Shawn Richards, VP of Resident Experience for Holiday Retirement. “We have former NASA engineers that live with us; we have computer scientists that know more about computers than you and I will ever know because they were the founding fathers of this space. So, there are people that are using technology in ways that you and I don't even understand today, right inside of our buildings; so, offering them a [tech] avenue to engage with our different systems and platforms only makes sense.”
Holiday365 is another avenue for our residents who know and want to use technology to be able to engage with us in a fashion that we have all become accustomed to, mobile apps. Over 6000 of our residents have an iPhone; that's 20% of our total population.
However, any technology we introduce to our residents is always in addition to the non-tech, original systems that are in place—such as walking to the front desk to make a request. That was and important decision from the beginning of the app development according to Richards. “When some people hear about [the app], they get scared; they think that [the app] is the only way that mom and dad would be able to do all of these things—and that's not the intent and not the approach here.”
How Residents Can Use Holiday365
As a resident there are quite a few ways to use Holiday365 that will seem very familiar to users of mobiles apps.
ActivitiesThe app allows you to set up a profile that includes preferences of hobbies, interests, past experiences. Much like television streaming apps, the system can then suggest activities or events that might interest you based on your preferences. Or you can simply browse all the activities on the current schedule. You can add events and activities to your calendar, make reservations where necessary and get reminders prior to the activities. Because the app is digital, activities can be updated in real-time allowing our associates to make changes based on resident preferences. Residents can also opt-in family members so they can also see the activity schedule allowing them to suggest activities to you.
TransportationOne of Holidays’ key offerings is scheduled transportation for all of our retirement community residents. Using the app, you can make transportation requests, such as doctor’s visits, lunch dates and more. You can organize your schedule to keep track of what you’ve already requested and where you’ll be going. Holiday’s transportation team can also use the app to take attendance of their passengers and their location.
Communications & NewsThese features deliver a newsfeed and community and company news similar to social media apps feeds. These help you stay updated with new events and fun things going on around the community along with and provides special notifications. TVs in the community will also share this information similar to the way large monitors display news and information at hotels, sporting venues and cruise ships.
This is a first for Holiday and a feature that has been a major request. Residents and family members can make payments via the app for rent, activities, trips, etc... The system is set up so that multiple family members can split a payment if desired.
Maintenance Requests & SuggestionsHere, you can request maintenance issues be addressed for your senior apartment and the community spaces. You can also leave suggestions for the community and Holiday Retirement as a whole.
Social ConnectionsSimilar to the many social apps out there, you can find and connect with other residents in the community who have like-minded interests. You can even create your own social groups to plan activities, outings and more. Soon you’ll be able to connect with all residents in in Holiday communities coast to coast. This will allow you to widen your social network.
Technology and the Global Pandemic
None of us could have envisioned the important role technology would have during a global pandemic that limited all our social interactions; this was especially true among seniors who overnight became isolated from their loved ones. “Two years ago, when we started this, I was talking about getting ready for the future in retirement communities. Well, the reality is, the future is here, and it's here today,” Richards notes. “The pandemic really forced a lot of people's hands, not just seniors, in accelerating the use of technology. The residents, either those who are moving in or already living in one of our senior apartments, have most likely had video chats or [used] FaceTime® with their family members over the last year. People have become more accustomed to [technology], and to not acknowledge this and be ready for it would be a big miss on our part.”
According to AARP’s annual technology survey*, “older Americans most often sign on to social networks on smartphones (55%), followed by computers (47%) and tablets (41%). They are drawn to these sites to stay connected with friends and family.” They might have developed good feelings towards technology over time, or this might have resulted from their need to maintain relationships during the pandemic.
It is important that as a company, we stay ahead of our residents’ needs and create technology that will evolve as those needs change. The Holiday365 platform was designed to be easy and intuitive to learn and ensure those same navigational skills are maintained throughout the life of the platform. Nothing is more frustrating than an app that completely changes how it operates after an update. Holiday365 will ensure the same ease of use as it evolves.
How Holiday365 Helps Maximize Our Residents Experience
Holiday365 helps our community teams deliver better experiences tailored to the individual communities and residents. Traditionally our associates learn about the community residents and keep their preferences on paper, notes, and maybe spreadsheets. But if those associates move on to new positions, not all of that information may be passed to the next person resulting in another learning curve to get to know the individual preferences.
However, by having the Holiday365 platform in place, that learning curve is eliminated allowing us to continually elevate the resident experience. Associates are able to use the app to see what the residents are telling us they like to do and want to do compared to what our teams are actually doing. Community associates are able to overlay that and see the gaps of where we are meeting or not meeting our residents’ needs and be able to adjust accordingly.
This is important as some of our residents might prefer an engaging approach from our associates whereas others might prefer a more independent lifestyle. Richards clarified that “this isn't a big brother type play. But what it is, is that we are in the hospitality industry, and our job is to meet the needs of the people that are choosing to live with us. [Holiday365] only makes our job easier by being able to do that.”
Those of us who grew up on technology will be the next phase of residents moving in. It is comforting knowing that Holiday is prepared to serve us in an environment that we are used to functioning in. It is also comforting to know that regardless of what the future brings in technology, Holiday will continue to accommodate our way of living and learning.
This is just the beginning.