How Watermark Senior Living Improved Communication Using Caremerge Family Engagement

A change of management can be difficult for any senior living community, especially in the midst of a pandemic. Residents and families may wonder how the new management team will improve the community. What will change under new leadership?

After Julie Kern, vice president of Watermark Senior Living, and her business partner, Dean Rappa, acquired the community in February 2021, they surveyed residents on community life. The results showed that residents wanted an easier way to keep in touch with their families and loved ones.

Watermark landed on Caremerge as a senior living technology partner and decided the Family Engagement platform would be the best way to improve family communication. Here, Kern shares how the Family Engagement tool helped deliver the results they were looking for.

Not Sure Where to Begin? Ask Your Residents 

The best first step to take after an acquisition is to make sure you understand the current state of the operation. For Watermark’s new owners, this meant launching a survey on the community environment, which highlighted that there was room for significant improvement in facilitating communication between residents and their loved ones.

This was a critical finding because social isolation and loneliness can have serious health implications in older adults, negatively impacting their mental and physical health. 

The risks associated with isolation have only intensified as the COVID-19 pandemic has left many older adults isolated. Healthy social relationships can increase life expectancy for older adults and improve their quality of life. Knowing this, Watermark was determined to find a way to connect its residents with their loved ones who lived outside of the community. 

Looking at the communication tools that were already in place, Kern saw opportunities and limitations. “We talked about email and text blasts, but so often email newsletters end up in spam folders and it is not a great way to communicate,” she said. “We wanted something more engaging: we could get the staff involved, post photos and videos, and send announcements.” 

They needed to find a solution that would allow them to deliver a more robust family communication toolkit.

Find a Senior Living Technology Partner that Provides the Tech and Terms You Need

As Kern researched tech solutions for their family communication needs, the Caremerge Family Engagement tool quickly stood out. It allows care staff to upload photos and videos, publish announcements, and survey residents and families about community life. But these capabilities weren’t the community’s only concern.

As a recent senior living start-up, affordability was a key factor when choosing a senior living technology partner. At the time, Watermark was only looking for a communication engagement tool and did not want to pay for additional functionality they didn’t need as part of a bulk plan.

What made Caremerge stand out further is that it offers a number of solutions, including Senior Living EHR and Caremerge Voice, but senior living communities only have to engage with and pay for the digital communication tools they need. Kern appreciated that Caremerge provided adaptable offerings and the flexibility to choose only the senior living technology Watermark needs.

Want Results? Opt for Family Communication Tools Built for Families and Residents

As senior living communities continue to navigate the hardships of the pandemic, family communication remains vitally important. Family Engagement from Caremerge is a simple way to connect families directly with senior care staff, share activity calendars, and post community announcements in a way that’s easy for families to locate and for communities to track to ensure everyone has seen critical updates.

After the Family Engagement platform launch, Watermark saw 73 percent of resident families registered for the program. This was a promising start, and a few weeks after the launch, Watermark released an announcement regarding COVID-19 on the platform that saw 86 percent engagement from families. 

The benefits of choosing the right family communication tool extend to resident satisfaction as well. A recent survey from Watermark showed appreciation for the care and support of senior living staff, and 87 percent of respondents rated Watermark 10 out of 10, along with their Net Promoter Score increasing to 100. 

One family member even said, “For 25 years my sister has never been fully satisfied with her living situation, and last week for the first time ever, she gave her living community rave reviews. She is very happy with the changes Watermark management has made.”

What’s Next for Watermark: An Expansion of Senior Living Technology

Today, 20 percent of families use the Family Engagement tool as their main form of communication with Watermark, a number that continues to increase.

While the pandemic has restricted family visitation, the senior living community is finding creative ways to connect with families. Recently, Watermark hosted a University of Georgia football viewing party for its residents and sent photos and videos to loved ones using Family Engagement. 

Because of how easy it was to implement Caremerge technology into Watermark’s senior living community, they now plan to add Digital Display to their digital senior living toolkit and expand their usage of Calendar Central

Watermark is in the midst of renovating another home and has plans to implement Caremerge technology solutions and other smart home technology into its growing community. The new home will have tech-enabled smart lock doors, along with programmable lights and music.


To learn how you can improve family communication and whether Caremerge is the right senior living technology partner for you, request a demo today.

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