Nursing Home of the Future Initiative Completes First Phase

After taking close look at current elder experience, BIF team sets sights on activating lab’s full capabilities

With the current elder care system in peril, and with millions of babyboomers on their way to old age, most experts agree that we must fundamentally redesign our country’s approach to elder care. The Business Innovation Factory’s Nursing Home of the Future (NHoF) initiative began when members of the BIF community galvanized around the idea that we must work harder (and faster) to design new approaches for providing cost and care-effective support services to our elders.

Working with Tockwotton Home, a 30-bed assisted living center and 42-bed skilled nursing facility located in Providence, Rhode Island and Quality Partners of Rhode Island, BIF set out in Spring 2008 to build a neutral platform for experimentation where partners can test new ideas in a working elder care facility with guidance from a laboratory team of designers, clinicians and elder care experts.

In October 2008 the team reached an important milestone in bringing the NHoF lab to life with the completion of the first phase of project activity. This initial phase sought to create a detailed description of the current experience of nursing home and assisted-living residents that illuminates the day-to-day dynamics of elder life that also reveals areas of the experience most in need of redesign.

For the NHoF team, this meant hundreds of hours at Tockwotton Home, talking with residents, participating in social events, meeting with families, talking with staff, interviewing experts and documenting everything with audio, video and still photography.

The team synthesized these observations into a series of maps, vignettes and photographic displays that make it easier for non-experts and experts alike to understand the current experience and preview a set of opportunities for improving it.

This work revealed deep insights into how residents interact with the facility and staff, utilize private and shared spaces, care for body and mind, make use of equipment and furnishings, and engage in recreational activities. From this work, the NHoF and its advisors narrowed the field down to 13 areas of the elder care experience that can be improved through redesign and active experimentation in the NHoF lab.

Over the next few weeks the NHoF team will gear up for a Phase II of activity set to begin in January 2009. In Phase II, the team will leverage the relationships BIF has created with Tockwotton Home, NHoF project advisors, BIF partners from the private sector and elder care experts from across the country to begin active experimentation with new products, services and systems for improving the elder experience.

BIF’s non profit platform differentiates the NHoF project from traditional product development and testing operations. Although some work in the laboratory will be proprietary, BIF’s mission to enable collaborative innovation motivates us to talk openly about our activities and experimental approach and share our learning. Most importantly, our commitment to open innovation enables us to invite broader input from the community through a project’s lifecycle. Since its launch in April, the team has held two public sessions on the NHoF program and made all of the first phase findings freely available on the web.

For more information about the NHoF laboratory, contact Melissa Withers at [email protected] or 401-345-6711.

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