MT. COMFORT — When John Moore and his colleagues sold their online fundraising solutions service in 2007, they started thinking about their next big idea.
All of the entrepreneurs had relatives who were transitioning to senior housing or aging in place.
“How do you keep Pop connected with everything going on?” Moore asked rhetorically.
His father could get one of the smartphones, tablets or laptops his younger relatives use, but those come with an array of challenges.
“What’s a technology every senior knows?” Moore asked again.
They’ve watched the news, sitcoms, dramas and reality programs on it. Now, thanks to Moore and his colleagues’ next big idea, they can also use it for keeping in touch with their families and keeping up with what’s going on in their senior communities.
LifeShare Technologies, which recently moved to Mt. Comfort, has small, software-equipped boxes hooked up to TVs on 350 senior-living campuses in 36 states.
The company started in 2011 in Shelbyville before moving to 4202 N. EMS Boulevard in Hancock County last fall, where it’s more accessible to employees and has room to grow. It represents a bit of a return for Moore and his fellow co-founders, as it’s not far from the building they formerly housed their fundraising solutions service and that now houses Harvest Church.
After a LifeShare Technologies box is plugged into a TV, a user can access its features through a remote with minimal buttons. One of those features is reading messages family and friends send. Photos don’t have to be downloaded and tracked down but rather automatically aggregate to one easy-to-find location. Users can listen to music and podcasts, play games, read news and peruse faith-based, inspirational and educational content.
The box also can pipe information on senior communities’ activities, announcements and meal menus straight to residents’ screens.
LifeShare Technologies’ CommunityShare service provides many of those same features on communal televisions at senior living facilities. Residents can stop by to see what’s for dinner, view a slideshow featuring them and their neighbors and gather around with a group to play games like “Name that Crooner.”
The company offers a mobile app as well that allows relatives to keep up with activities and announcements at their family members’ senior living campuses.
Springhurst Health Campus in Greenfield was the first senior living facility to sign up for LifeShare Technologies’ products. Today, they’re in all residents’ rooms as well as on TVs in activity rooms and hallways.
Brad Rusche, director of client experience for LifeShare Technologies, had a great-grandmother who lived at Springhurst. A resident down the hall from her who had family all over the country was the company’s “guinea pig,” Rusche said, adding her feedback was invaluable to getting the service up and running.
Cindy Thompson, a life enrichment associate at Springhurst Health Campus, said LifeShare Technologies is effective at helping residents keep in touch with their out-of-town relatives.
“If you can’t get face to face, this is the best way,” she said.
Residents are especially fond of playing the word search game available through the service, Thompson said.
Barbara Kaster, a Springhurst resident, said she likes to use the LifeShare Technologies box in her room to peruse meal menus.
The product also allows her to keep in touch with her children, who are spread out across the country.
“I enjoy being able to use the TV to get pictures and hear things from the family,” she said as she watched a slideshow featuring photos of her son and grandson in Massachusetts.