One of the last residential industries to catch on to the installation of commercial-grade WiFi has been the Assisted and Senior Living industries, and understandably so. With a considerably higher age demographic than the typical MDU/ MTU, which caters primarily to millennials, managers of Senior and Assisted Living properties are starting to see a real demand from both residents and their families for commercial-grade WiFi as both an amenity. As more technologies that improve Senior Living operations become available, building owners have the ability to offset the cost of deploying WiFi by lowering operational cost and saving on energy usage.
According to an article from titled: “WiFi in Senior Living Becoming Necessary Investment” in Senior Housing News:
“Yet due to security concerns, a rising demand among residents, and an ongoing shift toward a host of web-based services designed to make senior living and care more efficient, providers are finding in some cases they can’t afford not to make the investment.”
- Some properties do attempt to self-install routers to simply offer WiFi access in property amenity areas so that they can provide Internet to families and residents, but this approach can be wrought with serious issues, lack adequate device support and can cause properties headaches that distract from property management duties:
- Security: WiFi security issues are very real and seniors are especially vulnerable to hacking and identity theft. It is important to have a WiFi network backed by UserSafe technology to ensure that users on the network are guarded against hacking and identity theft. Technologies, like UserSafe™, isolate each individual user on the network so that no other user can access their device or information. This means that shopping, banking, email and surfing are all safe guarded. This is not the case with a self-install WiFi router, even when password protected with encryption, users are still vulnerable and exposed.
- Support: Building owners that have attempted to self-install their own WiFi networks can attest to what a mess it can quickly become. WiFi is a technology that needs constant support, monitoring and maintenance to ensure a positive user experience. Spot On Networks has an in-house NOC (network operations center) that monitors the WiFi network 24/7 so that we are made aware of and can address a problem typically before the user even notices. This support is essential to property managers so they can focus on running their facility, not on WiFi problems.
- Wireless Operations Add-Ons: New wireless technologies are being geared towards improving operations at Senior Living facilities. Vitals, bed sensors, security systems, medication dispensers, patient tracking devices and energy management can now allow for wireless monitoring which allows for large operational savings and better operating efficiency. A commercial-grade network is essential to these technologies due to the need for continuous network monitoring.
- Resident and Family Demands: The senior population is getting more tech savvy by the minute and is showing the same rate of increase as the rest of the population. 59% of seniors 65+ are online and 71% of those are online every single day. In addition we are noticing more properties whose resident population wants WiFi access, not only for themselves, but for their visiting families. Children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren expect to have WiFi access everywhere – including when visiting relatives.
- WiFi Calling: New smartphones are being built with the ability to make calls over WiFi the same way that you would over the cellular networks. This is a huge plus for building owners who tend to have indoor cellular coverage issues inside their buildings. This technology is predicted to be the next game changer in the wireless industry and will allow for very inexpensive voice coverage to be delivered throughout a building. For residents and their families, having adequate indoor voice coverage is a necessity. Quality WiFi calling can only be obtained with a commercial-grade WiFi network with QOS and voice packet prioritization.