John O'Connor, Editorial Director

Conventional wisdom holds that the long-term care sector is short on innovation. 

The field is being dragged kicking and screaming into the current century, some pundits will quickly tell you. But there’s one little problem with this view. It happens to be dead wrong.

As our just-concluded technology awards program shows, operators in this field are taking to tech tools as never before.

Consider Mather LifeWays. This nonprofit out of Evanston, IL, captured our Quality Through Technology Award. It earned top honors by creating a three-component program that helps improve life quality for residents with dementia. 

Then there’s Sojourn Senior Living. The Kankakee, IL-based continuing care retirement community captured the top Dignity Award by incorporating a driving simulator and joystick that allowed a resident to operate a motorized wheelchair. 

Speaking of powered wheelchairs, the Boston Home captured the Gold Award in the Innovator of the Year category. The provider was honored for its Wheelchair Enhancement Center, which it runs in collaboration with MIT’s Artificial Intelligence Center. Boston’s Chelsea Jewish Foundation won the top prize in the High Tech/High Touch category. The foundation’s skilled nursing community, called the Leonard Florence Center, has units for residents with multiple sclerosis and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Center residents worked with engineers to develop assistive devices that allow them to perform functions such as adjusting window shades, controlling room temperature and changing TV channels via eye-movement sensors. Then there’s our Transitions winner, Hearthstone Health Center. The community dramatically lowered its hospital readmission rates after adopting a wireless daily living documentation tool.

And these are just the Gold award winners. The Silver and Bronze winners have similarly remarkable stories. Better yet, these were culled from more than 100 impressive submissions.

Still think there’s not much innovation in this field? Think again.