Selecting TV programming for your senior living community seems like a no-brainer, right? 

On the surface, it appears as though it should be a straightforward process. But when you consider the integral role the television plays in the daily life of your residents, it becomes a more weighty decision—one that can impact both resident happiness and engagement, as well as your revenue stream. 

But today, entertainment is more than just TV. Entertainment comes from movie streaming, video chatting with grandchildren, talking to friends and family on the phone. A full entertainment package includes TV programming, internet and voice services. 

But where do you start when evaluating TV programming options?  Below, you’ll find six questions you should be asking your team now if you are even thinking about changing your TV, internet or voice services.

1 – Do You Want Customized Service Based on Level of Care? 

In the past, it used to be enough to simply provide standard television programming. While residents might have missed their favorite TV shows from the past, they “made do” with the options given.

The modern-day resident, however, has higher expectations when it comes to their television programming.

Today, seniors are more technologically savvy than ever before. Many of them have grown accustomed to streaming, DVR, and other similar conveniences. That trend will only become more entrenched over time. 

Every community is unique. Even within the community, there may be different resident populations, including: 

  • Independent living (IL)
  • Assisted living (AL)
  • Memory care (MC)

Each one of these population segments has its own TV watching habits. Therefore, it’s critical that you have the flexibility to cater entertainment solutions based on both the care level and the community size. 

Residents change, as do their needs. Don’t get locked into a TV programming schedule that lacks the flexibility to vary your channel lineup. You should be able to make alterations when you want, and how you want—whether it’s the ability to add specific sports channels at certain times of the year, live TV for the news, or swapping in a new channel that residents have been requesting.

2 – Can the TV Offer More Than Just TV Programming?

Like programming, the TV has also evolved. 

Today, there are Smart TVs, HD TVs and other forms of technology designed to offer different levels of programming and streaming. You must decide whether you will be providing the TVs or if residents will provide their own.  

Offering top-notch TVs is a cost-effective amenity that can go a long way with residents, especially if you decide to offer add-ons like:

  • Streaming service subscriptions, such as Netflix, HBO, Hulu, etc. 
  • Apple TV integration
  • DVR integration 

Aside from simply watching TV shows and programs, many communities have begun to treat the Smart TV as a tool capable of much, much more. It can be leveraged for an array of additional engagement options, including:

  • Live Events Broadcast – Turn any room into a broadcast center from which residents can participate in religious services, strengthening and exercise programming, mental health content, group meetings, and mood-altering music programs. 
  • MessageNow – Transform a resident’s TV into a live message board with custom-designed community channels that address daily, weekly, and monthly activities.  
  • PlaybackNow – Provide a movie theater experience for residents in every room by scheduling and broadcasting multiple movies or educational content via automated DVD playback. 

All of these features go far beyond the traditional boundaries of TV programming. They can help improve the lives of residents while also supporting and relieving staff.   

3. Do You Have Enough Internet Bandwidth to Support Your Residents’ Growing Connectivity Needs?

COVID has helped expose serious constraints within senior living communities’ WiFi networks. For many communities, staff and residents demand bandwidth that far exceeds the infrastructure’s capacity. Such constraints have become even more noticeable in communities that only provide WiFi access. 

A variety of factors contribute to this bandwidth drag, including: 

  • The number of devices residents can connect to the internet in their living space
  • Additional amenities such as in-room printing
  • Wearables  
  • Voice over IP services 
  • Video streaming services  

When your bandwidth is inadequate for your needs, it can cause a host of problems (and impact the resident experience), including:

  • Slow upload and download times
  • Streaming services, like Netflix, stuttering or buffering 
  • Internet pages not opening immediately
  • Long wait and latency periods

Speak with your residents to see if they’re encountering these specific problems or any related issues. Consider sending your IT team to resident rooms to run speed tests to gauge for themselves. Armed with this information, you can make an informed decision about your community’s internet bandwidth requirements. 

4 – Have You Considered Privacy and Security? 

Due to HIPAA, HITECH, and other privacy laws, it’s vital that your business internet is segregated from resident usage. Compliance with HIPAA and other privacy regulations require that protected health information (PHI) be secure at all times. 

This begs the question, is your internet communication protected from piracy

If you’re concerned about internet speeds and privacy, ditch your WiFi. Instead, bring the internet connection straight to the resident’s room, and then ramp up security by segregating resident internet from your office internet.

Dedicated connections improve speeds and security. It ensures that residents can make secure online purchases and electronic banking transactions, and that PHI is secure for the back office.

5 – Do You Have the Resources to Provide Ongoing Technical Support to Your Residents for All of Your TV and Communication Needs? 

Who do your residents call when they have issues with the TV? When they forgot how to connect to Facebook? When they need to connect a new tablet to the internet?

If your staff is spending any time helping residents with technology questions, that means less time for resident care. Remember, your talented staff are there to care for residents, not troubleshoot technology requests.

Whether it’s something as simple as signing into social media or an even larger task like installing a new piece of technology, it’s important that you have dedicated resources to provide ongoing technical support to residents. 

If you don’t already have that, what’s stopping you? 

You can reduce both resident and staff frustration by partnering with a solution that provides:

  • Tech concierge – Dedicated technology professionals who work onsite at your community to resolve any issue that residents, or your team members,  may have. Make sure that service is backed up with a 24/7 US-based call center. 
  • Managed services – If you have TV, internet, IT, and voice services, you’ll want 24/7/365 maintenance and management that both residents and staff can call at a moment’s notice.  Today’s services should cover all software upgrades, patches, licensing, equipment, and a five-year warranty.

Providing this baseline technology support can go a long way toward demonstrating to residents and staff that even their small frustrations are heard and being addressed. 

6 – Do You View Entertainment as an Expense or as a Revenue Generator? 

Each community takes a different approach to this question. Some view entertainment as a prerequisite—one that residents demand. Others view it as yet another potential revenue stream. 

How do you budget for TV programming? Is there a flat fee? Do you charge it as a percentage of costs? Does it bring some additional revenue? 

The same questions can be asked about high speed internet and voice services for seniors. Most communities will choose one of four options:

  1. Let your residents bring their own
  2. Charge a baseline option and then let residents upgrade on their own
  3. Provide a consistent experience to everyone, and charge a flat rate that pays for the services
  4. Charge a premium for the service that creates a revenue stream

Your All-In-One Infotainment Solution 

Entertainment doesn’t have to be just the TV. It can be a whole lot more. 

Today, senior living communities have an opportunity to up their game by ushering in the next stage of the entertainment evolutionary cycle. If you’re considering your TV programming options, ask yourself the following questions: 

  1. Do you want to customize service based on level of care? 
  2. Should the TV offer more than just TV programming?
  3. Do you have enough internet bandwidth to support your residents’ growing connectivity needs?
  4. Have you considered privacy and security? 
  5. Do you have the resources to provide ongoing technical support to your residents for all your TV and communications needs? 
  6. Do you view TV as an expense or as a revenue generator?

Entertain360 is the solution to all of these concerns and more. This powerful technology platform is the tool you need to reimagine the way you keep residents entertained and engaged. 

Whether it’s customizable TV programming, internet and voice technologies made for seniors, a suite of entertainment options, or on-call and on-site technical support, Sentrics has your community covered.