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Rise of Robots: Workforce, Covid Pressures Lead to Bolder Tech Investment in Senior Living

The Covid-19 pandemic is still putting pressure on every facet of senior living operators, particularly as it relates to staffing, occupancy, and expenses. Technology is helping to fill the gap.Across the industry, senior living operators are exploring robotics and software systems aimed at boosting efficiency and helping workers spend more time with residents.To get more news about Robots as a Service, you can visit glprobotics.com official website.

Operators implemented many of these forward-thinking technological solutions as an emergency response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But looking ahead, regularly putting money toward technology will become a must-have if operators hope to keep up with the rest of the industry, according to Nexus Insights Founder and National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care (NIC) Co-Founder Bob Kramer.“Companies will have to invest in technology,” Kramer told Senior Housing News. “If you don’t have it you’re just not going to be competitive.”

LeadingAge SVP of Technology and Business Strategy Majd Alwan sees three main areas where operators should focus their efforts: HR software that allows staff to voice their concerns, schedule shifts and get paid when they want; robotic process automation (RPA) software to automate digital tasks such as telehealth visits; and deploying physical robots in communities.

Today, several senior living operators have put more time and resources toward their technological capabilities, including in those areas. They include The Springs Living, Asbury Communities, and Transforming Age.While senior living operators have long explored ways to implement robotics into their operations, progress over the years has been slow. But with the pandemic and its pressures on staffing, some are taking another look at whether robots have a place in senior living after all.

For example, The Springs Living has deployed Servi robots from Bear Robotics to run food between the kitchen and the dining room so that staff can spend more time with residents.Each Servi robot can carry food from the kitchen on three tiers, and then return used dishes once residents are done with their meals. The robots can hold up to 66 pounds and have a battery life of up to 12 hours under typical use.

The McMinnville, Oregon-based provider started with a pilot program late last year, and now deploys Servi robots in nine of its 18 communities, according to The Springs Living COO Brenda Connelly.“The reception from the residents and staff was interesting … they are very curious about the technology,” Connelly told SHN. “But with that curiosity came an understanding of the value they provided.”

Asbury also uses food service robots in its dining rooms. The company first piloted using the robots in its culinary program, and before that, the organization explored using robots to greet visitors.

Residents had questions about the robots from the moment they were implemented, according to Todd Andrews, who is president of Asbury’s continuing care retirement community (CCRC) division.With a successful pilot under its belt, Asbury will send its dining robots into five additional communities this April.

Robotics are also finding their way into other dining programs, such as during the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, where automatons served meals to attendees in light of Covid-19 infection control protocols.Bellevue, Washington-based Transforming Age is yet another operator that implemented robots with the rise of the pandemic. The organization deployed Skytron UV robots to sanitize resident rooms at the height of the Covid-19 risk.

Transforming Age President and CEO Torsten Hirche believes that the more operators can delegate to robots mundane tasks such as vacuuming or dishwashing, the better.“People say we’re in the people business, which is true,” Hirche said. “And [they] say that people will always be served by people, which is flat out not true.”
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