Pending final ACE- Retirement Communities' Wish List Includes High-Speed Internet

Today's Seniors Need More than Yesterday's Network: Making Senior Living Communities Technology-Ready

For senior housing, connectivity is not an amenity; it’s a necessity. Today’s aging Baby Boomers are setting new expectations for senior living, especially when it comes to technology. In many ways, their current lifestyles are enabled by reliable connectivity to support their phones, tablets, laptops, wearables, TVs, smart devices, and the like. So, when today’s aging adults consider their senior housing options, it is no surprise that a high-speed connection is one of their top two priorities.

Providing this top priority doesn’t have to mean increased costs to the owner or operator. In fact, we are seeing communities get creative and turning technology into a revenue-generating tool by providing technology-as-a-service packages to their residents.1

Here, we’ll discuss how operators can implement a cost-effective, technology-ready strategy to meet their increasing network demands.

Is your network infrastructure holding you back?

First, let’s lay out the technology dilemma that many communities are facing, so you can see how your community compares. 

As the Baby Boomer generation ages, the number of seniors (age 65+) is projected to nearly double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060.2 This new wave of seniors also brings a new wave of technology preferences that communities must plan for. Not only are 73% of seniors now online, but two-thirds of Baby Boomers say they can only comfortably last 24 hours without accessing the Internet.3 Because we live in an increasingly wireless world, communities are looking to provide more wireless services that can enhance their senior housing offerings. 

Is your community considering any of the following technology services?

  • Enhancing resident care through telehealth, remote monitoring, nurse call systems, IoT sensors, smart lighting, and smart watches.
  • Boosting resident happiness with gaming, video calls, tablet programs, and voice-activated smart hubs to play music, share news, and set reminders.
  • Increasing community engagement with personalized TV broadcasts to share daily schedules, menus, activities, and messages from loved ones.
  • Improving operational efficiency with streamlined connectivity, scheduling panels for room visits, security & surveillance systems, door entry controls, and touchless visitor registration.

1Survey: Technology rated more important by older adults than by others
2U.S. Census Bureau, Population Projections
3Pew Research

If, like many communities, your team is planning to incorporate more technology to augment your senior housing offering, you may also be discovering the limitations and challenges of your existing networks. Senior Housing News recently surveyed over 250 readers to identify the top barriers for implementing technology plans. The #1 challenge that communities are facing is the limitations of their network capabilities, specifically: Wi-Fi, bandwidth, capacity, or the physical infrastructure of the building.4

4 Source: Senior Housing News, The COVID Effect: Technology Adaptation in 2020

How technology-ready is your network?

The good news is that barriers can be broken. Let’s start with understanding the root cause of the problem. Currently, the common method for delivering data and power to our devices is through a traditional copper network. However, this traditional approach requires a community to:

  • Repurchase infrastructure as part of routine category cable upgrades 
  • Build, power, and maintain at least one Intermediate Distribution Frame (IDF) closet on each floor because category cable is limited to 328 feet
  • Allocate dedicated space which could otherwise be put towards additional resident rooms or revenue-generating space
  • Run multiple disparate systems which increases network complexity, maxes out pathways, and complicates upgrades for future technology needs

Alternatively, owners and operators who understand they have the power to design networks differently are choosing fiber-to-the-edge for their communities. By delivering power and virtually-unlimited bandwidth across distances of more than 2,000 feet, a fiber-deep approach supports today’s network needs and positions a community to be ready to implement future technology plans. What this networking approach means for senior housing is:

  • Reduced network deployment costs by eliminating multiple runs of single-purpose infrastructure
  • Reduced technology upgrade costs by eliminating the need to routinely rip-and-replace network infrastructure 
  • Reclaimed space by reducing IDF closets and using smaller pathways
  • Reduced resident disruption from adding, changing, or upgrading technologies
  • Preparedness for future, unknown technology plans with a flexible, adaptable network in place 

Which networking approach sounds most like your community?

 

What’s the ROI of your technology strategy?

If your technology goals are limited by your traditional copper network, consider the benefits of fiber-to-the-edge. 

Let’s unpack an example comparing a traditional copper LAN design to a fiber-deep design. An urban senior living community with about 25 stories is implementing Wi-Fi, security cameras, and resident connectivity. By choosing a fiber-deep networking approach, they could realize approximately 29% cost savings and save an approximate additional $195,000 by eliminating 20 IDF closets. Additionally, a fiber-to-the-edge design would provide them with 17% more available data drops for day-two technology needs. 

Another benefit to choosing a streamlined fiber-deep infrastructure is that communities who own their networks can also operate them and provide connectivity directly to their residents as a service. Whether communities work with a third-party or bring these capabilities in-house, having ownership of the network allows them to provide revenue-generating services such as monthly technology packages. Additionally, by owning the entire network, a community can provide a consistent connected experience whether a resident is in their home or elsewhere on the property. Take a look at what Erickson Living is doing to provide connectivity services to their residents using a fiber-deep network. 

If your community could benefit from a technology-ready network, our experts are here to help. In the meantime, check out our latest senior living resources to learn more.

 

Deanna MacCormac joined Corning in 2017 and is part of the In-Building Networks team. She is passionate about helping enterprises solve for their ever-changing technology needs through a fiber-to-the-edge approach. In particular, Deanna supports senior living communities and educational facilities by understanding their unique technology goals and helping them implement flexible, cost-effective networks.

In this role, she also helps launch new products and provides solution training for software-defined LAN and remote power. Deanna has a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from the Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.