In this episode of Raising Tech, our host, Patrick Leonard, has an engaging conversation with Steve Rakus & Laura Bell from Accora, about Accora's customizable bedding & seating technology, which helps prevent falls in Senior Living communities.
Discover more about Accora's FloorBed technology, which lets Senior Living communities' staff lower residents' beds all the way to the floor, reducing the chance of injuries for residents and staff. Also, learn more about Accora's Configura® Advance seating, which is easily adaptable for Senior Living communities' staff, while providing comfort and potential prevention of tissue damage for residents.
Raising Tech is powered by Parasol Alliance, The Strategic Planning & Full-Service IT Partner exclusively serving Senior Living Communities.
Welcome back to Raising Tech, a podcast about all things technology and senior living. I'm your host, Patrick Leonard. Today we're gonna talk about a topic that might not come top of mind when you think about technology and senior living communities. However, it's certainly touched by technology are also our products that are utilized every single day in senior living communities by the residents themselves. And so those products are simply chairs and beds utilized in the resident rooms. So we're gonna talk a lot more about that and what makes them unique of course. But with that, I'm gonna introduce our guests for today, Steve Rakus and Laura Bell from Accora. Steve and Laura, welcome to the show.Laura Bell:
Hiya, hi everybodySteve Rakus:
And thanks for having us.Patrick Leonard:
Of course. Thanks for being here. So to start our listeners off, can you give us a little bit of background just real quick of an intro, Steve and Laura about yourselves and your roles with Accora. Steve, if you don't mind starting .Steve Rakus:
Sure, that sounds good. I happened to be a registered nurse by trade initially and then moved on to the Navy, got an MBA in healthcare administration, which turned me onto the business aspect of how to provide nursing solutions to customers throughout the healthcare industry. It's been a long <laugh> , a long journey, almost 40 years . It's been wonderful. I'm excited to be involved in this particular industry and what we do currently helping solve problems in the long-term care community with Accora. They have some very innovative products. I cover personally the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states from Virginia to Maine. Surprisingly, It's about the size of England actually, which is fascinating and I don't know if you can tell, but I love doing what I do. We're having tremendous success. And without Laura, I couldn't do this.Laura Bell:
Well, I'm Laura Bell and I am over here in the United Kingdom. As you can probably tell from my accent, I'm English and I work over here doing marketing and some events coordination for the us . So we do have a UK and a US , subsidiary, but I work 80% of my time on the US.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome. Well thank you both for that intro and yeah Steve, we had a chance to meet at a LeadingAge Conference and could certainly tell that was, you know , one of the reasons we wanted to bring you on to the show is because you can just tell, show in two seconds from talking to your passion for Accora and the products that you all offer for senior living. So excited to have the discussion today. So for those who aren't familiar, can you tell us a little bit about Accora and what problem you all are looking to solve in senior living communities ?Steve Rakus:
Absolutely. Accora is a unique company. They're quite innovative . It's a family owned company. There's four brothers and a sister and they're devoted to causes. One of the key causes that they want to try to eliminate is injuries that are caused by falls . So the horrible problem worldwide. Every single facility suffers from this problem and has attacked it innovatively, uniquely and quite successfully. I'm here to say through experience of about five years now here, we've really changed the landscape here in the US and they've been changing the landscape throughout the world for at least 20 years, which is quite exciting. And they also tackle the problem of positioning and comfort, which every human being wants to be comfortable, probably very, very difficult to get comfortable as we age and also as we aren't as healthy and mobile as we used to be . And so therefore you were able to see a couple of those products that I showed at the trade show and they're extremely successful at doing what they do and eradicating or alleviating these problems, which is quite fulfilling if you'll on my part and quite and quite fulfilling on the staff of the facilities part because they're the ones who have to try to meet these needs and we create innovative tools to do that.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome, thanks for that. And so can you tell us all a little bit more specifically, I mentioned in our intro chairs and beds in the residence rooms , obviously I'm sure I'm not doing it justice by simplifying it to that point. Can you tell us a little bit more specifically about the range of products and solutions that you all offer Accora?Steve Rakus:
Absolutely. We passionately try to attack the problem of injuries caused by falls. So we created the first floor bed and the unique floor bed because of the technology that it took to get the bed to at the lowest level possible, literally on the floor with the purpose of eliminating injuries caused by falls from beds. The higher you are when you fall from a bed, the more severe your impact to the ground will be and therefore your injury. These injuries range from broken bones to bruises, contusions, and in some cases they actually lead to death of the individual. So we want so badly to prevent that from happening and then we actually want to prevent the actual fall from happening. So by bringing the bed to the floor level, that helps to do that as well as a safety mat that goes along with that, that keeps them from changing planes, which would cause them to report a fall. So our ultimate goal is to eliminate injuries from falls and have the facilities be able to also eliminate those injuries and not have to report falls because they didn't really happen. So we energetically introduced the FloorBed One, here about five years ago. It's been throughout the world and I mean Accora has been around for at least 20 years. So the rest of the world sometimes knows a little bit more about this products than we do. But now they know now they're having dramatic decreases in the number of falls. In many cases eliminating the potential for a fall from the bed. I always joke with the facilities that the floor bed can't help them in the dining room or in the bathroom, but it's extremely effective with the residents in their room . So we progressed now to the level where we have an Empresa floor bed, which incorporates everything facilities worldwide need. They want to have a home-like look for the bed. So it is , it's real wood, it does look like it belongs in the home, makes the families and the residents very, very comfortable like they're in their home and yet it meets all the criteria that facilities have to meet to be compliant with all the current codes for anti-entrapment and just really try and prevent fall . So that's hard to do, <laugh> to comply with everything, make it look good, make it effective, but we're extremely successful at doing so. And I'm proud to say facilities that have received this bed or purchased this bed have noticed a dramatic increase in falls. And our second product that we do kind of parallel with that is comfort and positioning. We try to attack those problems. The older we get, it's harder to get comfortable. And so with the tools that are out there, there's still some improvements that could be made. And what we've done is created the Configura Advanced comfort chair, another absolutely gorgeous looking chair, which is off the battle right there. You gotta look good and incredibly comfortable because of the technology used with the material that is made with it has four-way stretch so that the resident can sink into the , the mattress, immerse into the cushions, thereby redistributing their pressure. And in English we call that comfort <laugh> and it's extremely, extremely comfortable. The unique advantage to this chair compared to every other chair on the planet is it's configurable, hence the name Configura, without tools, the rehab department professionals, the occupational therapists, physical therapists are able to adjust the chair width and the depth of the seat to perfectly match a resonant, a resident's size and proportions. And also can move the foot plate so it gives support to the legs, which really no other chair that I'm aware of can do. And so those are the passionate problems that we're trying to help solve. Falls injuries, comfort and position it . And we're quite good at it.Laura Bell:
If I could just jump in there, Steve for a sec, if that's all right ? One of the biggest things about the configure advanced chair that are so popular is that you don't need to wait for the maintenance guy to come along and adjust it. So when Steve says it's completely adjustable, he also means that you can adjust it yourself for your residents with click lock brackets. So you don't need any tools to adjust it to make it perfect for the specific resident that's sitting in it in that minute. You can do it yourself and affect their comfort right then and there because you know what's best for the individual resident, the nurses do. So you can do that yourself. AllSteve Rakus:
All without tools.Laura Bell:
All without tools. Just a pair of hands.Patrick Leonard:
<laugh>, Pair of hands, most powerful tools. Yes , indeed. That's great. Yeah, thanks for providing some more detail because again, I saw firsthand it's much more than just beds and chairs. You know, I saw you with one button or one single movement, the bed was completely configurable, the chairs were completely configurable. I sat down a nd t hem m yself, it was extremely comfortable. I , I think if I didn't have a bunch of coffee at the conference, I would've fallen a sleep a little bit. Tell me a little bit more about the technology. You touched on it a little bit just now with the fabric, the technology from that sense, and then about just the configurability without tools, some of that technology. Can you touch on a little bit more specifically b ecause I would not be doing this podcast j ustice i f I didn't bring up technology, of course, how these products and solutions a re l everaging t echnology specifically, if you don't mind?Steve Rakus:
Absolutely. We have a team of engineers in our innovations department that are constantly looking ahead 5, 10, 20 years into the future using all the tools at their disposal and sometimes creating new tools to incorporate the advances in technology and how to bring them to the market if you'll to attack and direct that technology toward these massive problems, which are, like I say are worldwide. The interesting thing about what we're doing, it's not specific to the US, to the UK, to any country. It's people worldwide, people that are suffering. We're trying to take what's there and also what's in the future and incorporate it into our products. The way that that bed moves, the engineering, the technology and the way that the head and feet elevate and all beds currently when the head is elevated, the pivots at a joint and therefore the resident starts sliding down in the bed and then they bend the knees of the bed and then what happens there, it causes excess pressure in the patient's sacral area, which could lead to a pressure ulcer. So with the technology in this bed, the Empresa, it actually retracts a little bit and then comes up and then the fleet also retracts a little bit as it comes up and that widens the space and the sacral area . So that much, much less pressure is there and it's the only bed that I know of that will do that. So not only will it also eliminate falls and injuries caused by falls, but it will also contribute to the lesser chance of a pressure ulcer developing, which is very, very important for so many other reasons because you could die from a fall, you could also die from a pressure ulcer as it gets infected and gets deeper and starts doing its damage to the tissue there. So that part of technology is quite impressive and it's pretty exciting to see how it's formulated into the construction and the operation of the bed. Same thing with the bed. You can hit one button and I think you saw this at the trade show and the bed starts tilting and going into a chair like position. So they're kind of in a chair like position without leaving the bed because some people, their condition is so severe that they cannot even leave the bed. And that's where the technology that is employed with the Empresa design will allow them to mimic the position they'd be in in a chair as well, all while looking good in that homelike bed , which is a major goal of all facilities. So it's pretty neat how the engineers have taken that technology and put it into these products for the skilled nursing facilities, long-term care facilities, group homes, etc. Again, throughout the world and just being met with incredible success once they see this, once they know that this exists. And that's where I work so closely with Laura in marketing. She also helps me increase that awareness in a different way using technology actually <laugh> . And it's pretty cool how everything works together in this day and age.Patrick Leonard:
Absolutely. Thanks for that. And so if people aren't using Accora and these products and solutions and the technology that you all have incorporated in these beds and chairs, what are they doing instead? When you are offering this, are they typically using just your standard bed and chairs that you would see at the store or hospital type beds? Tell us a little bit more about if people aren't utilizing this , what are they dealing with today?Steve Rakus:
If you've ever been in a facility, if you're visting a loved one in some of the facilities , they're using hospital beds if will because the bed needs to be able to move, most of them now are electric. I think we've gotten rid of most of the old fashioned cranking beds and I had mentioned every bed in long-term care that I'm aware of has the ability to go low . They're trying to go low. The other beds used to be 14, 15 inches up in the air , which is a tremendous drop and a tremendous impact for injury. So over the last 20, 30 years, they made a concerted effort to make a best practice being that all beds must be able to go what they call a low bed . Now an average height of a low bed is eight to 10 inches from the ground. That's how low it'll go. And that has helped somewhat. But unfortunately if that was doing the trick, we wouldn't have as many falls and unfortunate injuries. I really want to stress falls are one thing, but the injury because of the fall is what's really devastating to everybody involved. The resident themselves, the family, the facility themselves, everybody. So our floor bed for a standard low bed will go eight to 10 inches off the ground. Our floor bed goes all the way down to two and three quarter inches off the ground and a mattress goes on the bed. And when that bed is in the floor level position, we also have a safety mat, which is like a fall mat only, it's the same exact height as the bed with the mattress on the ground. So you basically have taken that twin bed because it's a 36 inch wide bed, hospital bed and you've basically made it almost a queen size bed. So you've given the residents more room to roll without falling and therefore that will stop, number one the fall and most importantly will stop the injury. And that's what's most exciting . And our Empresa has taken that initial floor bed technology, which is unlike anything in the world, and found a way to get our motors underneath the bed and still only be 3.9 inches off the ground again with our safety mat that brings it to level field . So they have almost like a queen size bed to sleep in to live in . And it goes a long, long way to helping to stop those falls. People who are falling three or four times a week, they bring in the Empresa FloorBed and it immediately the falls stop . And they're still in compliance with all the regulations that they've got to meet to exist in long-term care as a facility. So we're very , very proud of that and the results are speaking for themselves.Laura Bell:
If I could just add that there's a heavy conversation right now in long-term care about the power of artificial intelligence in sensing falls , which is brilliant. They're making leaps and bounds in that, you know, I don't want to mention any brand names, but their results are impressive at detecting falls. The only problem with just detecting falls is that it's often too late to do anything about them. So in terms of technology that protects and prevents injury, preventable falls engineering is one of the key ways that we can do that. And that's what we feel passionate about at Accora. It's not just showing what we did wrong, what we miss , the mistakes that we made that we can do better next time. It's about preventing them in the first place because as Steve says, a fall can be devastating, can be fatal, and the issue will only increase due to the aging population and more baby boomers coming in every day . So for us, the real simplified kind of technology at its origin is just engineering. So that's how we use our technology to prevent falls where other software or SAS products, you know, they might fall short of actually preventing the falls that are happening.Patrick Leonard:
Yeah, thanks for mentioning that because there are a lot of amazing and innovative falls prevention and detection solutions coming out there and it seems like there's certainly some synergies between what you all are offering and what some of those solutions could offer as well as kind of a complete solution to both prevent and detect these falls and to stop them from happening as much as possible. So I really appreciate you bringing that up so it's clear the benefits. Can you talk just a little bit more about how are staff responding and what practically implementing these beds and chairs in the rooms look like as their training or ongoing maintenance of the bed that people should be considering if this is a solution for them ?Steve Rakus:
Absolutely. What I do is I bring the bed and the chair around with me between Virginia and Maine to really any facility that's interested. I literally bring them to the facility, get them inside the facility, gather around a variety of different professionals, from administrators to directors of nursing, directors of rehab, OTs, occupational therapies , physical therapists, nurses, nurses' aides . And it's fascinating to watch the demo. It's the same, it repeats itself everywhere we go, they know that there's a problem and they're at their wits end because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, hoping for a different result. Well, if someone's falling, they try everything they can do, they get the bed as low as they can that they have, but unfortunately they're still getting injured. And so what else is there to do? And they see this as a solution and when we show them this, they're nodding consistently. They're smiling consistently because they know that we're hitting the nail on the head and they get very excited because I say moving from the normal, all the functions of the bed and then bringing it down to a low bed level, which is what they're used to , low bed level down to the floor. I say that for the end of course as the pièce de résistance. I'm sorry , speaking some French in there, Laura, <laugh>, but their jaws drop because it's been five years now here in the US still, there's a lot of places we haven't got to . I'm working on it and my colleagues throughout the country are working on it, but we haven't got everywhere yet. When they see that bed go from a low level, which is what they're doing and they see it go to the floor, a lot of things happen in their mind. But first of all they go, wow. And then they go, "oh my god, all my other beds I think are low, aren't really, really low." And so it's a realization then when they know that there's a solution out there, they start having action, they go, we've got to get this because we can get them very, very quickly. That's one other thing about Accora is we have a tremendous amount of stock and supply . So we have no supply chain crisis . When somebody says to me, "Steve, this is great, I'm going to get 30 new beds this year anyways, I order 30 of these Empresa FloorBeds. Now how soon can I get them ?" And in my region we ship everything out of Columbus, Ohio. So in my region we can get them 30 beds in two days and they're mind boggling with that. And the same thing with parts. It's a big concern with all the maintenance directors in facilities is getting parts because they've got beds that have been there for 20, 30 years and some of those models have gone out of existence and therefore the parts are no longer available. So you had asked the question, you gonna have maintenance, but how are they liking what we do? They love what we do because the great guarantee that we have, the warranty we have is better than anything I'm aware of for our bed. It's 12 years on the frame of the Empresa and four years on all the electronics, which is what usually breaks, well usually breaks is a handset that controls the bed and the reason they break is because they drop it and then a wheelchair rolls over it. Now I said, that may not be warranty, but we'll cover everything we possibly can and you as a maintenance director Accora requires, this is real important for them to hear this, we as a manufacturer require them to do absolutely zero preventive maintenance on our bed to maintain that warranty. Same thing with the chair. There's no preventive maintenance that we require and that is kind of revolutionary. And that all ties back into the technology, the engineering that's there. What you're seeing with the Empresa FloorBed, and you saw it at the trade show, was the latest advances implemented in technology engineering, all for the common purpose of eliminating injuries, eliminating falls from the bed. And also with our chair to provide comfort and positioning in the most aggressive way. I just wanna attack that problem. And that's the response we get from the staff. I joke with whoever's bringing me in there, like introducing me to a facility, and I think I said this to you and Kati at the trade show is their job is to count how many times they say, "wow!" The administrator says, "wow," the DON says "wow," the wound nurse because we can help them with the wound with preventing pressure ulcers. They go , "wow, how does a bed do that?" And I show them how and then they go, "wow!" So I get at least seven or eight wows for every one of the demos that we do. It's quite pleasing. And then with follow up on that two , three weeks later, a month later, how are those people who are falling, how are they doing? Invariably they say, well they're not falling from the bed, that's for sure. And that's music to our ears. That is our goal and it's very, very satisfying to see that already. I feel myself getting passionate about it again just like at the show. So I apologize for that, but it's unending and my work isn't done yet. Our work isn't done yet. We haven't gotten to every single facility yet. We're working on it and it's truly a fun journey , that's for sure. I'm well armed with technology innovation again, good looks, but not for me from the bed <laugh> and from the chair and of course provided everything that I could want as a representative of them and the support as well as solutions to these terrible problems. It's pretty cool to be be where we're right now and I'm glad you're helping us to spread the word.Patrick Leonard:
Absolutely. Well that's great. It's always fun talking to you and never apologize for your passion because we love it and that's what the industry needs and thanks so much for providing such a great overview and sneak peek of how your solutions and your beds and chairs are really helping senior living residents and staff to do their job easier. So thanks for providing those perspectives there for us today.Steve Rakus:
Certainly we can't forget the families, they're so appreciative because they know their loved ones falling sometimes that's why they're in a facility because they're falling at home and getting hurt and they are responding by giving feedback to the facility who gives feedback to us and we can't leave the families out. They know what's going on. Everybody's pretty well informed on a lot of things. Sometimes the family has done some research and told the facility about this really cool FloorBed that's out there . So it comes from a lot of different ways . It's pretty cool.Patrick Leonard:
Awesome. Well, before we wrap up today , I just wanted to ask Steve or Laura , is there anything else our listeners should know about Accora or are there any final thoughts or words of wisdom if you will you want to provide to our listeners before we wrap up today?Steve Rakus:
I would say see this, look at it. Let us show you how this helps your problems of falling and positioning and comfort and even for pressure ulcers. And then I'd like to turn over to Laura to show you a whole other thing. A lot of people don't know, that we also provide with Laura's leadership that you might be surprised at what Accora provides to the world. So Laura, please take it away.Laura Bell:
Thanks Steve. So Accora's number one mission is to enable independence and champion dignity for the end users that use our products. But we are also really interested in helping long-term care and skilled nursing facility professionals to do their job even in a better way and often an easier way. <laugh> , because we know about the staffing crisis, it hurts. We know that training is hard to come by is expensive, it's a difficult situation for you guys out there in long-term care. We want to do everything that we can to help you and your staff to do care in a quality way. So we offer a free webinar program. We do a webinar usually every other month, which is completely free to attend and you can share it as many people can attend. So often people are all gathered around <laugh> one computer in the office and we tackle subjects that are close to your professional hearts. And we do cover about falls . It's not a product push, it's free education. And we have some of the best experts speaking on their specialisms in the US and other topics that we've covered. Pressure, injury prevention compliance. Our last webinar that we did just last month was about the top 10 cited FTT tags and federal tags that nursing facilities typically are tagged with and that can affect their marketability as well as impact on their residents. Actual wellbeing, of course, which is the number one concern for all of us in long-term care. Whether you're a vendor, a provider, a professional, we all want to keep our loved ones, our seniors safe for as long as possible and comfortable. So our webinars are designed to help long-term care professionals to efficiently care for our seniors, even in the midst of severe challenges in the industry. So we also offer blogs, articles, informative pieces, infographics and things like that. Content that really helps and is fast to consume because we know you've not got a hot minute. <laugh>, we know got zero minutes to spare. So whatever we can do to help keep you informed and up to date in the innovations that are available to you as healthcare professionals, we do our level best. So if you want to follow us, Accora Inc. on LinkedIn or check out our YouTube channel, then there's all sorts of snippet, bite-sized, educational content that you will definitely find will benefit you and your team. So there's a little something for everyone there.Patrick Leonard:
Perfect. Well again, Steve and Laura, thanks so much for taking the time today to educate our listeners on these topics . And listeners, thanks for tuning into another great episode of Raising Tech . If you have any feedback, a topic idea, or want to be on the episode yourself, please feel free to reach out to us on our website, www.ParasolAlliance.com. Have a good one!