Biscuit is not a real puppy, but the animatronic dog provides very real benefits for memory care residents of the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing. The nonprofit has achieved such success with Biscuit that independent judges chose Front Porch to receive the Gold Award in the High Tech/High Touch category of the 2013 McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards.

Researchers have developed robot animals specifically for healthcare settings, but Front Porch found a budget-friendly option made by a toy company: Hasbro’s Biscuit, a lifelike dog marketed mostly for children. The initiative began with a five-week evaluation period at the Sunny View Care Center in Cupertino, CA. Socially withdrawn and cognitively low functioning residents engaged with Biscuit, and results were “immediate and profound,” according to Front Porch Director Davis Park.

“Interaction prompted some to speak and sing who were previously not verbal,” Park told McKnight’s. “The device was a vehicle for group therapy sessions and discussions of recollections about pets and animals, enhancing the care delivery experience among staff.”

Shea Family earned the Silver award for its implementation of the Daylight IQ disease management software from COMS Interactive. Empowered by this technology, the six Shea facilities have decreased hospital readmissions by providing more hands-on, individualized care to each resident.

The Bronze award in this category went to Windsor Garden Care Center, which previously previously picked up a certificate of merit in the Dignity through Technology category. The facility in East Orange, NJ, serves a diverse population that includes many young adults. Residents and staff collaborated to create a YouTube video, the “Windsor Work Out.” The project strengthened resident-caregiver relationships and called for many types of technology, including DJ equipment, iPhones, computers, editing programs and social media, according to Windsor Garden. 

Another Windsor Healthcare Communities facility, Canterbury Care & Rehabilitation Center, received a certificate of merit. Residents utilize green screen technology, iPads and other technology to bring the Canterbury News Network to YouTube and a local channel in Cedar Grove, NJ. This “CNN” increases resident-caregiver interaction in many ways, such as through staff interviews.

Three Links Care Center in Northfield, MN, also earned a certificate of merit. The nonprofit implemented SpeechGear’s Interact-AS technology to improve communication with residents who have hearing difficulties, and partnered with SpeechGear to develop dementia-specific features. These include audio playback of soothing messages from family members.

McKesson is this year’s sponsor of the competition. This week, the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards is recognizing winners in the following categories:

Monday — Quality in care (Gold: Life Care Centers of America)

Tuesday – Dignity Through Technology (Gold: The Terraces of Los Gatos)

Wednesday – High Tech/High Touch

Thursday – Innovator of the Year

Friday – Transitions