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Atria utilizes tech innovation to promote the health and well-being

Atria Senior Living, a leading operator of senior living communities across the United States and Canada, is incorporating key lessons learned in its COVID-19 experience into its care program for post-pandemic life and beyond.

The past year posed a unique set of challenges for the senior living industry, as companies were forced to approach care differently in order to navigate an unprecedented situation that hit seniors the hardest. With shelter in place orders in effect, quarantine protocols, and limited traditional opportunities for contact and interactions, Atria pivoted its methodology for care in order to keep residents happy and healthy, by utilizing technology, streamlining processes, and investing in new and innovative ways of connecting.

Our advances over the last year have helped us to reimagine how we approach care, and to provide the best quality care.

When traditional approaches to in person connection and well-being were not possible, Atria created new ways of connecting in order to elevate and continue providing whole-person care for residents. This was achieved through the introduction of the Atria Mobile app, a newly released app from Atria that has helped to put vital care information at the fingertips of families. To date, the app has been downloaded by more than 8,000 families and residents. The app enables monitoring of residents' vitals for better visibility for employees and families, and will be a cornerstone of Atria's care program going forward. In addition, the company has installed telehealth technology in many of its communities to offer opportunities for residents and their healthcare providers to connect, without the exposure risks of a traditional healthcare setting. 

"Before the pandemic, we'd already gotten a lot smarter with the introduction of technology as a way to ensure the quality of care," said Joanna Mansfield, Senior Vice President of Care and Life Guidance at Atria.

The pandemic amplified those technology needs and required strenuous infection control measures that Atria already had in place. Those measures were strengthened through SafeGuard infection control training.

"Everything from how Atria staff interacts with residents, to our cleaning practices has had to change over the last year, and it's made us more adaptable," Mansfield said.

In addition to technological innovations, Atria adapted existing programs to keep residents connected and active in a newly virtual world. Atria quickly transitioned existing programs and events, including fitness classes, game nights and more, to cater to this new landscape, finding distanced and online ways to keep residents and families connected. And through this, residents found new hobbies, new skills and new connections.

Among the more than 18,000 older adults who call Atria home, two residents authored and published memoirs, two formed a new friendship through a virtual poetry group, one resident taught himself the piano, one taught himself intricate woodwork and another took up meditation.

"I had never done meditation before the pandemic, and I never knew how much I would enjoy it," said Therese Wang, an 83-year-old resident at Atria at Foster Square in California. "I worry for my husband sometimes, and the meditation has helped with calming my nerves."

Beyond new skills and hobbies, other residents reconnected – or connected for the first time – with distant family members and friends thanks to the help of ZOOM and FaceTime. And from these adaptions born out of necessity, employees and residents have become even more connected to each other and the outside world.

"Atria's commitment to enabling residents to live their best lives in any circumstance has remained unwavering over the last year, but the landscape of care, and of our world, has forever changed because of COVID-19," Mansfield said. "Our advances over the last year have really helped us to reimagine how we approach care, and to ensure that we are prepared to provide the best quality care possible for our residents, no matter the circumstances."

The company is looking toward turning a page on the pandemic with more than 91% of U.S. residents and staff being vaccinated and a decline of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. In-person programs are now resuming in all Atria communities, where permitted under state guidelines, with mask wearing and social distancing continuing.

Mansfield added that as Atria moves forward, the company will continue to utilize virtual programs, technology, and other pandemic-born innovations to provide ways of keeping residents engaged and connected. "After all, the past year has shown us not only how important care is, but also that care and connection are not dependent on proximity. What matters most is the desire to care and connect in the first place," Mansfield said

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