Anthony Cirillo

For two weeks at the end of June, the members of the National Association of Activity Professionals were treated to two weeks of free programming by Sage Stream, an innovative and new senior entertainment and education network. 

In October of last year, we created Sage Stream with the help of students from Northeastern University. The idea was to produce a daily live-stream program to complement activities in senior living and other settings, create a library of recorded programs, build a component to book content providers through on-demand requests and eventually allow booking of entertainers live in-venue. 

“We couldn’t think of a more timely topic,” said Jane Braley, associate director of employer engagement and career design at The Experiential Network at Northeastern University.

Within a few short weeks of working with students, we realized we were on to something. Contextually, COVID created a social isolation crisis that continues even as the country opens up. Staffing in senior living was dicey at best. Activity professionals historically have not had a long tenure. The unexpected employment exodus across industries has exacerbated staffing as people are reevaluating their careers and moving on. Simply, inconsistent staffing leads to inconsistent quality of programming and quality of life for older adults.

We quickly picked up endorsements and press and, working with Music for Dementia in the U.K., an international roster of artists

The mission of Sage Stream is to relieve senior isolation, foster intergenerational relationships, supplement content providers’ income (artists and educators), and enhance senior living activities by creating a virtual entertainment and education network that provides live stream and pre-recorded programming for older adults in all settings.

The NAAP programming offered the following talented content providers. You can watch and use these videos freely.

How were they received? Enthusiastically! In addition to the live-stream viewers, there were close to 2,000 playbacks in the following two weeks. In conjunction with Second Wind Dreams and Music for Dementia, we produced a clinically valid survey to measure behavior change in residents. You can review the results here. The key questions we were most interested in responses to were the following:

  • The technology worked well on both the sender and receiver’s end.
  • Content provider related well, communicated clearly and kept interest of viewers.
  • Residents actively participated.
  • Positive changes in emotional levels prior to and after – i.e., relaxed behavior, increased alertness, breathing patterns, mood in room elevated.

Across the board, respondents strongly agreed with these statements. But we will leave the final word to Alisa Tagg, Association Director at National Association of Activity Professionals, who conveyed:

“Sage Stream provided NAAP with two weeks of amazing performances. Not to use the word amazing lightly, the 10 shows featured a diverse lineup of talent, varied topics beyond and including music, and international artists with top credentials. All of the formal evaluations and anecdotal comments back to NAAP indicated that behaviors were positively impacted, and activity professionals were thankful for the great entertainment.”

In time, the Network will offer a complete solution by partnering with Internet providers to solve bandwidth and connectivity issues, as well as tablet providers and student and youth organizations that can assist older adults with connectivity and provide socialization while fostering intergenerational relationships. Contact me to find out more.

Anthony Cirillo is a health, aging and caregiving expert and president of The Aging Experience. A professional speaker and media influencer, Cirillo is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives with a Masters from the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the creator of the Caregiver Smile Summit and Sage Stream, a member of the Nationwide Financial/NCOA Health and Wellness Roundtable and a member of the Bank of America Elder Care Policy Roundtable.

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.