Aruba Gigabit brings high capacity wifi, better care capability to Schlegel Villages' retirement communities

By Jeff Lagasse
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Schlegel Villages, which operates 19 longterm care and retirement villages across Ontario, Canada, wanted to deliver top-shelf care and amenities to its residents. So it tapped Aruba.

Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, operates the Aruba Gigabit wireless network, which Schlegel Villages now uses not only to bolster its care delivery but improve efficiencies for about 4,800 full- and part-time employees.

Schlegel Villages’ previous wireless network was comprised of outdated equipment that could no longer meet the increasing demands of its team members and residents. Schlegel’s team members utilize wifi phones, and both team members and doctors require fast, efficient communications and access to clinical information in real-time.

Schlegel’s IT team knew they needed a more robust, 24/7 network that could accommodate these requirements, as well as host their clinical software and new applications like PointClickCare to provide point-of-care services to residents. And they wanted a network that could be managed centrally and automatically, rather than one that necessitates the manual updating of each access point.

Working with IT solutions provider CDW Canada, Schlegel Villages considered solutions from several vendors, including Cisco, before selecting Aruba to deliver their new network. Schlegel Villages was already an HPE switching customer and had been using Aruba wireless solutions in their corporate offices, so according to Chris Carde, director of information technologies for Schlegel Villages, the decision to go with Aruba was an easy one.

“Having a pervasive and secure wifi network that could accommodate both existing and new applications was the top priority for our villages,” said Carde. “We were already familiar with Aruba and knew that they could provide a solid foundation for the kinds of applications our care team members and doctors need to improve efficiency and productivity. We also liked Aruba’s ability to provide centralized management and visibility into the network with tools like AirWave that help our IT team automate previously manual processes.”

Carde said their previous wifi network was limited in the number of access points it offered, and Schlegel wanted the ability for up to 100 users to be logged on seamlessly at one time -- for instances when, say, the conference room is packed and dozens of users are trying to utilize the network at once.

There’s also another benefit to Aruba’s technology that Schlegel is looking into: The use of GPS trackers to keep track of patients, who would wear Fitbit-like devices that would allow them to be located if they become lost.

“You throw on one of those wristbands and that would be the GPS locator,” said Carde, “and then we can pinpoint where they are in the building. If someone leaves, say a dementia patient who wanders out of the building, an alarm could go off.”

Carde said Schlegel is investing somewhere upwards of $1.5 million to transition to Aruba’s technology.

The wifi network installation is already complete, and Schlegel’s new PointClickCare application will be fully deployed by mid-2018. Schlegel has already installed Aruba 7200 Series controllers and 900- Aruba 310 Series APs, which deliver 802.11ac Wave 2 and include built-in Bluetooth Low Energy beacons that the retirement village can leverage in the future for location-based services like mobile engagement and asset tracking.

And there’s a second phase coming: Schlegel will deploy another 600- APs, Aruba AirWave for network management and Aruba 270 Series APs to extend Wifi coverage outdoors in Schlegel’s parking garages. The garage coverage will enable team members and guests to connect quickly when arriving at Schlegel’s Villages and will provide connectivity for maintenance employees.

One of the top priorities for Schlegel’s wifi network is enabling new applications. PointClickCare will allow Schlegel’s care team members to collect information about residents on the spot, immediately enter it into their mobile devices, and upload that information so it can be shared with other team members and doctors. This eliminates the previously manual process that team members would have to undertake -- writing notes on paper and then going back to fixed stations to enter that information.

With the new wireless network, Schlegel Villages can benefit from these new applications and from an improved, mobile-first environment. Equipped with wifi phones and tablets, Schlegel’s care team members are now untethered from their stations and can receive calls from anywhere in their village, allowing them to respond to residents’ requests quickly and share information with other team members and doctors immediately. The bottom line, as Carde notes, is a better experience for Schlegel residents.

“Deploying a solid wireless foundation with these new applications will definitely result in less support calls and time savings for our IT team, but more importantly, it will allow our team members and doctors to provide better care, resulting in an improved resident experience,” he said.

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