ELLICOTT CITY, MD—Lorien Health Services, a family-owned assisted living/nursing home company, and industry innovator, has teamed up with Utopia Experiences to offer residents a virtual, live-hosted interactive game show called Spintopia—it’s like Wheel of Fortune—specifically geared toward seniors.
While the pandemic presented many challenges—especially for the elderly—it didn’t stop Lorien from looking for ways to bring its residents together and make them smile.
“Lorien residents fell in love with the game when they first played it last April,” said Lorien CEO Lou Grimmel. “Their faces light up as they search for answers to fun questions, and they are completely engaged when playing. Spintopia underscores our belief that residents need to be challenged and stimulated.”
Utopia Founder and CEO Sasha Dawn was excited to partner with Lorien because Lorien has a culture built on innovation and providing residents with the latest technology. Lorien was the first senior living company in Maryland to provide telehealth to residents in their homes and partner with community hospitals through telemedicine.
Lorien became the first assisted living and nursing home company in Maryland to pilot the game when its beta version made its debut last April. It was an immediate hit among residents; in just nine weeks, residents at four Lorien locations played 100 games.
“We understand that in addition to caring for residents as if they were family members, the future is keeping residents engaged, active, vibrant and having fun,” Dawn said. “Spintopia, with its flashing lights, beeps and tricky questions, has proven to be one of the answers.”
The story of Spintopia comes out of the gloom of the pandemic. Dawn believed that entertaining people and keeping them engaged and enjoying themselves would not only help them navigate the perils of COVID, but also thrive in its shadow.
She initially developed Spintopia for families to enjoy at gatherings, parties and special events. But she pivoted when the pandemic took a personal turn—it nearly claimed the life of her father, who was recovering from a stroke in a nursing home.
With her father in the nursing home, Dawn hosted a Spintopia game with him and three other residents—two who had suffered strokes and another who was paralyzed from an ATV accident.
“We forgot about COVID and who couldn’t get out of bed. We forgot we were sad, lonely and scared. We felt good,” Dawn said. “Spintopia uses formats, colors, fonts and games [that] seniors recognize from what was on TV back when they were younger. It was incredible to see them light up when they saw something familiar, like it was unlocking something deep from within their subconscious.”
Like most, Verna Toms, the assisted life enrichment coordinator at Lorien Health Services, is a Spintopia fan. She believes it has a positive impact on cognition. “As Utopia Experiences creates new challenging interactive games, I feel it will change the way we look at our activities,” Toms said.