WEST ALLIS, Wis. – A partnership between Heritage Senior Living and the Partners for Health program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee aims to show how technology can improve the lives of seniors in assisted living and memory care communities.
The partnership, which began last month, is focusing on how emerging health technologies can impact issues affecting seniors like loneliness and depression, transfer trauma, fall prevention and others.
“Our students are learning how technology can have an impact on health care and improve patient outcomes,” said Kim Litwach, dean of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee College of Nursing.
The partnership will include the use of a social robot named Jibo to engage seniors in conversation as a way to combat loneliness, as well as the use of virtual reality instead of psychotropic medications to calm agitated residents. It will also look at whether the use of telehealth can decrease the need for acute hospital transfers.
Through the partnership, five nursing students will work more than 480 hours during a two-semester practicum and residency at five of Heritage Senior Living’s 15 senior communities. Participating senior residents will be evaluated while using the technology.
“Our work is really showing innovation in health care now and in the future,” said Litwack.
Since the students will learn the impact of technology in real-time and through the analysis of data, they will be better prepared to enter a health care system that is increasingly driven by technology, Litwack said.
Heritage Senior Living hopes the partnership with students will lead to an improved quality of life for its residents, an increased awareness of assisted living as an option for seniors and a possible solution to the nursing shortage, said Jaime Schwingel, vice president of quality and clinical operations at Heritage Senior Living.
“Plus, the students get to be part of some really cool projects based on things we want to improve for our residents,” she said.