A Victoria-based retirement community is doing a pilot project with the Amazon product Alexa to see if it helps keep seniors engaged. (iStock photo)

B.C. seniors’ home uses voice-activated Alexa in pilot project

The virtual assistant is being used in Victoria to help keep residents engaged

Staff at a Victoria retirement home have been testing the voice-activated assistant Alexa to help keep seniors engaged.

Residents at Berwick Retirement Communities have been testing out the virtual assistant, with reminders to take their medication and what time is dinner.

With a prompt of “Good morning,” Alexa can be programmed to turn the lights on, say the date and time, and give a weather forecast.

“The most important thing for a senior is a purpose to get up and do the day,” said Amir Hemani, chief operations officer of the company, which has locations across B.C.

“We onboard the residents to get into a suite, give them an orientation and demonstrate and lead them with it.”

Most seniors are generally not fluent in technology and don’t own a laptop or iPad, said Hemani, who is part of the Aging 2.0 Vancouver Chapter which helps keep his finger on the pulse for the latest technology and best practices of innovations for seniors.

Some may be visually impaired, have cognitive issues, can’t read, or have reduced mobility. Alexa is completely verbal and programmed for voice-activated requests.

Staff have done three months of testing for one of their visually impaired residents in Victoria, and has put Alexa in common areas of the facility.

If all goes well, Hemani said Alexa would become a standard feature in every suite when people move in. It could be ready as soon as next spring to be used in the newest retirement community being built in Qualicum Beach.

Sylvia Ceacero, CEO of B.C. Seniors Living Association, agrees that the social piece – keeping seniors connected is important.

“For all of us, socializing and networking has a direct influence on our health and well-being,” she said.

While technology offers many benefits, Hemani added, there’s nothing that can replace receiving a hug from a loved one.

“Physical touch is hard to replace from a technology alternative,” he said. “It makes us want to stretch a little further to see how we can help. When things are reduced for our seniors, we need to find out how to bridge the gap.”


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Clover Valley Beer Festival cancelled

Cloverdale beer fest falls victim to COVID-19

Low-cost bicycle repair shop opens in Cloverdale

Cloverdale Community Cycles starts up in church parking lot

Surrey Mounties respond to report of shots fired in Cloverdale

They took 12 people into custody but found no evidence shots were actually fired

All Safe Surrey Coalition council members must ‘step up’ over ‘bad taste’ tweets, rivals say

Slate’s posts on social media in ‘bad taste,’ councillor says

After 40 years on the job, White Rock’s fire chief retires

From flood to fire, Phil Lemire has been at the forefront whenever disaster struck

VIDEO: A Vancouver Island black bear takes weekend nap in eagle tree

Videos captured by Terry Eissfeldt shows the bear arriving Saturday night and sleeping in on Sunday

NDP getting COVID-19 wage subsidy ‘indirectly,’ B.C. Liberal leader says

B.C. NDP says Andrew Wilkinson is wrong about federal link

Parent, superintendent, trustee report smooth return to classrooms in B.C.

The biggest challenge is convincing families that it’s safe, some say

Two more COVID-19 cases reported by Langley long term care facility

One resident, one staffer have tested positive for the coronavirus

Help the ‘Cloverdale Reporter’ continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

George Floyd asphyxiated by sustained pressure: family autopsy

Death sparked a wave of protests across the U.S. and abroad

Suspect sought in alleged assault, hate crime on Metro Vancouver bus: transit police

The woman then allegedly punched the teenager in the head multiple times

COVID-19: B.C. commercial landlords can’t evict if they decline rent assistance

Emergency order ‘incentive’ for federal program, Carole James says

Most Read