Age Tech

Buffalo Skilled Nursing Community Receives Technology Grants To Enhance Resident Life

Increasing quality of life has always been a priority for Lake Ridge Senior Health & Living, but now, due to recent grant awards from the Department of Human Services (DHS) they are able to put specific emphasis on improving mental health, mobility and incontinence. 

The programs use advanced technologies and collect data through scientific methods and partnerships, such as the Empira Collaborative, to learn and execute proven methodologies. Empira aims to enrich lives by bringing out the best in older adults through practical application of evidence-based practices.

Technology Not Typically Used in Skilled Nursing

These partnerships and advancements are not typically available at skilled nursing sites, so the opportunity to be part of improving the quality of life for residents is an exciting one. Participants are challenging the status quo of growing older and making the aging experience better tomorrow than it is today. 

“The Minnesota Department of Human Services created and launched the Nursing Facility Performance-Based Incentive Payment Program known as PIPP in 2006. We have been participating in PIPP since that time,” says Empira Executive Director, Heather Johnson, RN-BSN. “PIPP allows us to research evidence-based practices and create programs that are tailored to address the needs in our skilled nursing communities and provide improved quality care.” 

Through grant funded PIPP programs like, STREAM and the new MOVE FORWARD initiative senior providers are able to make a difference when it comes to issues that affect residents most.  

Empira’s Heather Johnson also said, “Both the STREAM Program and MOVE FORWARD Program has allowed us to be innovative and procure technology that might not otherwise be accessible. This technology enables us to improve our ability to assess and then deliver care in a way that supports what matters most to the residents who have been entrusted into our care. And that is what matters.”

Using Virtual Reality to Provide New Experiences and Boost Brain Activity

Recently, Dawn Heuer, Lake Ridge Assessments Manager and RN-BSN, helped resident Mike Duffy with a trial run of the virtual reality headset being purchased for resident use. Dawn and Mike spoke of a trip that can be taken virtually to the Badlands in South Dakota. 

Even though Mike uses a wheel chair to get around at Lake Ridge, this user controlled program will allow him to enjoy the Badlands, exercising his muscles and range of motion skills. It’s not only exercise, but “travel” across the world so Mike can have a unique experience within Lake Ridge’s walls. This 3D, immersive environment helps older adults not only by boosting their mood, but also promoting brain activity. “I’m just so excited to try the different channels,” says Mike. This (trial) gives me something new to look forward to.”

“The opportunities these grants have given our residents is amazing,” says Activities Director Lisa Stidham.

Technologies to Address Incontinence and Promote Better Sleep

There are additional advanced technologies in the programs that may not be as fascinating as virtual reality or Oculus VR headsets, but Actigraphy, Tena Identify and Bladder Scanners all help analyze resident data for better sleep, smart incontinent technology and bladder visualization. 

Many developments have been seen in residents participating in the new MOVE FORWARD program, but STREAM has also been an active program at Lake Ridge for over two years, so there is proof the efforts are working and resident specific plans have been created based on the findings. “The STREAM program has enabled residents who use it to sleep better through the night, whereas they weren’t getting that kind of rest before,” says Dawn Heuer.

Lake Ridge will continue to use the data collected to create personal care plans for their residents to improve mental well-being, incontinence and mobility. Through Empira and other stakeholders, results will be combined to provide key findings and best practices in improving the quality of life for our aging population, which can be shared with organizations throughout the nation. 

Lake Ridge Senior Health & Living is part of the Cassia Family

Cassia is a non-profit organization that provides senior housing, health care and community-based services to older generations and others in need.

Located in five states, Cassia provides independent senior living, assisted living, memory care, skilled nursing care, short-term transitional rehabilitation, adult day programs and a variety of community-based services for older adults. Cassia continues to be an industry leader by providing healing, compassion and renewal through Serving all by following One.

For more resources and information please visit  or call Jenna at 651-529-0090 to set up an interview with Heather Johnson or residents and staff at Lake Ridge.