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Security Monitoring: RCare’s Voice-Activated Nurse Call Alerts By RCare, Inc.

Fellowship Square-Mesa is a 385-bed senior community in Arizona. The organization offers care across the continuum, including independent living, assisted living, skilled nursing, and memory care. The community has used RCare’s wireless nurse call system throughout its organization since 2008, to provide notifications to caregivers from pull cords, push buttons, and pendants, when residents need assistance.

Caregivers use RPhones, dedicated smartphones, to receive alerts, which include complete resident information as well as the location of the call. The phones are also used for communicating directly with the residents via auto-answer intercoms, allowing caregivers to reassure residents that their call was received, and to find out the reason for the call. This lets caregivers determine how to prioritize calls. The phones can also be used to call or message coworkers to ask for backup assistance.

Jon Scott Williams, the executive director of Fellowship Square-Mesa, is always on the lookout for ways to use technology to improve the lives of residents. Of particular concern are the safety, happiness, independence, and dignity of the seniors in his care. Staying informed about daily schedules, menus and transportation options, and making appointments, could be difficult for seniors. For the low-vision residents who make up more than 30% of his resident population, it can be even more difficult.

When Amazon introduced Alexa, Williams recognized how helpful it could be for his residents, especially those with low vision. Without needing to call the front desk or bother a neighbor, residents could request reference information, weather, and news. Now that Alexa is integrated with his community’s internal systems, residents can also check menus and schedules, request concierge services, and make appointments, using voice commands. Seeing the success of Alexa with these activities of daily living, he wondered if it could be applied to emergency situations as well, where it could do more than improve quality of life – it could be life saving.

Although residents are provided with push buttons and pull cords for summoning help, he found that until residents have personally been in a dangerous situation, they were often nonchalant about wearing their pendants. This meant the first crisis could be even more critical, if a senior needed to call for help, but couldn’t reach a device. RCare saw an opportunity to lead nurse call technologies by integrating voice commands to their full-featured systems. Voice commands could be used to request help, to cancel help requests, and to do daily check-ins. Even if there’s no push button within reach, if residents have forgotten to wear their pendants, or if they’re having difficulty moving, voice commands put help within their reach.

Voice commands could also allow staff to request backup assistance, and to dismiss and silence alerts for an incident, letting other caregivers know the call had been answered. In early 2019, RCare added voice command capability to its nurse call system. Williams knew he wanted to implement this capability at Fellowship Square-Mesa, so he agreed to pioneer the product within the community.

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