Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay

Westminster 1

Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay launches a new interactive tablet to improve brain health for aging adults.

 By Kat Zeman, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media

Resulting from awarding-winning research about the impact of personalized computers on the daily life of seniors and adults with dementia, Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay launched a new interactive tablet designed to improve brain health for seniors and people with cognitive difficulties.

Based in Virginia Beach, Va., Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay is a nonprofit Life Care community for active retirees ages 62 and older. The mission of this faith-based community is to provide residents with a stress-free, financially secure and dynamic lifestyle.

Westminster Westminster-Canterbury has teamed up with TMM Groupe, a French company that develops e-health software solutions for the healthcare industry, to develop Birdsong Tablet – an interactive tablet that helps fight declining brain health, boredom and isolation.

Birdsong Tablet is pre-loaded with hundreds of hours of music, videos, games, travel and therapeutic content. The device makes it easy for users to connect with friends and family via video chat, messaging and Facebook.

“Too many older adults are socially isolated, lonely and depressed,” says Ben Unkle, president and CEO at Westminster-Canterbury and Senior Options LLC. “The tablets get them engaged and open up new opportunities for them. We had a lady who attended her granddaughter’s wedding through the tablet. It’s something simple but powerful.”

Improving Brain Health

During research for the tablet, Westminster-Canterbury partnered with Virginia Wesleyan University and Eastern Virginia Medical school in the Birdsong Initiative, a research study in 2015 at Westminster-Canterbury which showed that simplified in-room digital technology and curated content improves life and brain health for older adults.

After 12 weeks of use, participants displayed a 7 percent increase in cognitive abilities, 55 percent decrease in depression and a 20 percent decrease in caregiver stress.

The project received the 2016 Excellence in Research and Education Award from LeadingAge, a Washington, D.C.-based association representing 6,000 non-profit aging services organizations throughout the United States.

“We want to make it a standard for nursing centers and retirement communities,” Unkle says. “It’s our shot at making an international impact for improving aging services.”

Westminster 2Westminster-Canterbury first installed Birdsong Tablets in resident rooms in the nursing sector of its campus in February. Since then, a number of other communities have tried it and are in the process of making them available for their residents as well.

A Unique Solution

The tablets are available to senior living communities across the United States and globally. In December, Birdsong Tablet became available to consumers for home use.

Because research shows that smaller screens are difficult for some seniors to see, the tablet is available in 21, 18 or 10-inch screen sizes. Senior living communities can customize the tablet to by activating/deactivating certain features and add their own content.

Birdsong Tablet is one of only two such products on the market. “We found that the only existing product on the market before Birdsong was very expensive,” Unkle says. “It was more than $100 per month per person. We got our price down to $18 per month per bed and we offer a broader number of content and experiences.” Westminster-Canterbury was initially reluctant to make the investment into developing the Birdsong Tablet. However, after seeing the results of the study, it knew that the tablet would change lives.

“Our study showed when tablets are in private rooms 24/7, they get used and amazing things happen,” Unkle says. “We decided there had to be a way to bring it to the public and to the senior living industry at a lower cost to end-users.”

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