Work Hard, Play Hard

October 7, 2020

Popular Activities

One of the main reasons people move into a retirement village is to enjoy the vast array of activities on offer. Many seniors that have worked hard their whole lives want to maximise their enjoyment in retirement with fun and interesting activities.

Participating in activities keeps you healthy and well connected to others in the village and for this reason they are extremely popular. It is, therefore, essential that all villages offer a full range of activities and that operators can manage Activities Programs efficiently.

Over the years, Activities Programs have grown to be more extensive and varied. Today it’s not unusual for residents to book and attend 15+ activities per month and for retirement villages to have dedicated Activities Teams to manage all aspects of their Activities Programs.

Activities Programs have expanded at such a rate, they’ve outgrown the manual systems and processes for managing them. Outdated paper-based systems are a problem because they inconvenience residents and cost retirement village operators hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in additional overheads and lost productivity.

Manual (Paper-based) Activity Booking

With 300-400 residents in a large village, managing the activities program is a challenge and requires a great deal of staff time.

  • The schedule, which usually runs to 5+ pages, needs to be compiled each month then printed and delivered to each resident.
  • Residents then need to write their name at the top, circle all the activities they’d like to do and then return the schedule to the Activities Office (about 10-15% are returned with no name).
  • The Activities Team then need to manually enter up to 6,000 activities into a spreadsheet or some other system for handling bookings.
  • Then they need to print an activity schedule for each resident and deliver these in time for the start of the month.
  • If activities are overbooked, they need to create waitlists and contact residents in the case of cancellation.
  • Several days are usually set aside to handle all the enquires that come from residents disappointed by their allocation or wanting to make amendments to their schedule on account of errors and/or changing circumstances.

If this sounds like a very big waste of time, it is…as the team at Spritely quickly discovered when we set about digitizing the whole process.

The scale of cost savings that Spritely achieved by doing this was recently made the subject of a University of Canterbury research project, which is being completed as part of a Bachelor’s degree.

Digital Activity Booking

Earlier this year Spritely added a new Digital Activities Booking module to its age-friendly touchscreen tablet. The feedback from residents and the staff at Alpine View and Burlington villages has been overwhelmingly positive. The new process replaces manual booking and saves more than a hundred hours a month. This is how the Activities Team at Qestral’s new generation retirement villages manage activities now:

  • Recurring activities from the previous month are automatically copied over by Spritely saving a considerable amount time. The Activities Team need only add “new” activities for the month.
  • With a single click the activities team change the status of the next month’s activities from “Hidden”, to “Open for requests”.
  • A notification is automatically sent to all Spritely tablets that next month’s activities program is now available, and bookings are open. Residents can now view all activities on the tablet. This saves a huge amount of time preparing, printing and delivering paper schedules.
  • Residents use the tablet to book whatever they feel like attending and their places are auto allocated based on capacity.
  • The calendar on their Spritely tablet automatically updates with all their confirmed bookings and they automatically receive reminders before each activity.
  • Residents can continue to book or cancel activities throughout the month without ever needing to trouble the Activities Team.

As a result, the Qestral Activities Team has saved around 120 hours a month. With all that extra time on their hands, the team has been able to add more activities to the schedule and residents are feeling healthier and more independent than ever.

Marketing Edge

In the retirement village industry, your residents are your most important salespeople. Spritely has helped Qestral to expand activities and dramatically improve the process for booking them. Qestral residents are quick to share this with their friends and this has helped drive enquiries since lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Spritely has given Qestral a unique and highly marketable advantage. Tablets in the showrooms are on full display during open homes and they are fully loaded with all the activities on offer.

Academic Research

Research conducted by a University of Canterbury Masters student has found that Spritely’s Digital Activities Booking module is responsible for huge savings at Qestral Corporation. Following the introduction of the module earlier this year the Activities Team has confirmed considerable time savings in the following areas:

  • Communicating with residents
    There is now a lot less back and forth between the staff and residents to confirm and/or cancel bookings
  • Data entry
    In a staff survey every single respondent agreed that Spritely decreases, somewhat decreases or significantly decreases data entry time
  • Printing and distributing paperwork
    The number of paper schedules that are printed and distributed has fallen by 95%

Increased Participation

A further benefit from Spritely digitizing the system for activities booking is increased participation. With old paper-based systems it’s not easy to cancel a booking and re-advertise a space. As a result, many activities go ahead with empty spaces caused by people not turning up.

Spritely has made it incredibly easy for residents to book and cancel their own activities. Openings during the month can easily be advertised via the tablet and as a result there are a lot fewer empty spaces during each activity.

Industry Leading

Qestral are the first to move all activity booking to a personalised tablet supplied with every house. The new activities module has bought significant benefits to both residents and staff. The fact that it contributes so strongly to the sense of community and connectedness in Qestral villages and improves the independence of residents in such a tangible way is likely to be of particular interest to the wider industry.