Charles E. Smith Life Communities

Charles E. Smith Life Communities, a campus of six senior living facilities in Rockville, MD, drew inspiration from the video game industry in creating its own interactive memory care software. Disappointed in the options the gaming industry presented for seniors, the staff at set out to build an in-house program to help enhance their memory care programs.

The campus won the Gold Award in the McKnight’s Excellence in Technology Awards in the Dignity category for its use of this interactive memory care.

“It has been rewarding to apply gaming and innovative technologies to improve memory care for seniors,” says An Cao, director of IT at Charles E. Smith. “This population is often overlooked when decisions about investing in technology are made.”

The games and challenges are accessible through ergonomic touchscreens with large, colorful icons, and residents can choose games personalized to their religion, hometown, past careers and other groups. Games can also be tailored to any residents’ cognitive level — “it’s never one size fits all,” Cao says.

The Silver award for Dignity went to previous Tech Awards winner Mather LifeWays in Evanston, IL, this year for its innovative art therapy program. The program has introduced a stop-motion animation component, which gives residents a chance to create short films using an iPad camera and objects of their choosing.

Another previous winner, California-based Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, scored the Bronze award for SingFit and Music & Memory. The two music-based interventions use songs and curated playlists to stimulate residents’ physical movement and improve cognition.

Certificates of Merit in the Dignity category went to Reformed Church Home in Old Bridge, NJ; Windsor Healthcare Communities of New Jersey; Vermont Veterans’ Home in Bennington, VT; and Toby Weinman Assisted Living Residence at Menorah Manor in St. Petersburg, FL.

Winners were announced in the Transitions category Monday