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Residents of United Church Homes’ Parkvue Community in Sandusky, Ohio, and Friendship Village Columbus recently participated in a pilot program to test K4Connect, an innovative platform that helps residents remain secure, socially engaged and living independently in their homes longer using tablet technology.

K4Connect creates solutions to serve and empower older adults and people living with disabilities. The flagship K4Community product integrates home automation, health data and social engagement software to promote more abundant living for older adults in retirement communities. 

With K4Connect, residents can fully manage multiple areas of their lives, such as adjusting their thermostat and lighting; connecting with friends and loved ones through secure text messaging, email and video; and registering for life enrichment programming within the community. 

After piloting the technology at Parkvue and Friendship Village Columbus for 90 days, United Church Homes discovered that the wireless internet infrastructure on these two campuses did not adequately support the software for the highest level of functionality. 

“The pilot, like all pilots, was revealing in a number of different ways,” said United Church Homes Senior Vice President of Senior Living Services Chuck Mooney. “One clear message that came out of it is the need for a wireless network platform to be able to support not only the K4Connect device in each of the independent living apartments, but also all of the future needs related to the devices people carry today. That’s been the common experience for K4Connect with other clients who have piloted the system. Wireless internet service has to be in place to be able to take advantage of all the features of the application software.”

Pilot participant Gene Finnegan, a resident of Parkvue Place, said he had a positive experience with K4Connect. 

“I have gotten more pictures for both (spouse) John (Rainey) and I from our kids than we would ever get,” Gene said. “We don’t do Facebook and we were surprised by how many pictures our kids sent. It is certainly very easy to make phone calls with the tablet.” 

Gene enjoyed checking the life enrichment calendar and daily menus on his tablet.

“One of the nice features is if you don’t feel like going down to dinner but you wonder what’s on the menu, you can check that out on the tablet without having to go to the dining room,” Gene said. “I know a lot of us older folks don’t want to get involved with a lot of technology, but you have to look down the road. People who are moving in now are going to be more exposed to technology than we have been, so they’ll be ready to have this kind of device available.” 

To share photos, a resident can simply invite a friend or family member to connect via cellphone or email. Friends and family then download an app to their phone or computer for secure messaging with their loved one.

“It’s a learning process,” Gene said. “I really think this is a good feature for United Church Homes to be able to offer.” 

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