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A member of senior living care staff sitting with an elderly resident and using a tablet device to improve engagement with herwith her

How Can Senior Care Providers Improve Engagement?

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be” – Abraham H. Maslow

This quote, from renowned American Psychologist Abraham H. Maslow, highlights the critical importance of creating a world in which every person has the opportunity to pursue their passions, use their unique talents, and live purposefully.

In senior care communities, residents can find themselves increasingly dependent on the assistance of their caregivers. These older adults want to retain agency in their day to day lives, so the environment they live in needs to support the decisions residents make about how they will conduct their daily lives.

So, are providers doing their best to ensure that this is the case when older adults move into their communities? A CDC report from 2016 suggests that there is plenty of room for improvement. According to the report, residents are typically receiving just 11 minutes of engagement each day outside of assistance with activities of daily living.

Senior Care communities too often rely on engagement calendars that consist of no more than the 3Bs: Bingo, Bible and Birthdays. Furthermore, residents who are most in need of person-centered engagement can often feel neglected, bored, and lonely, which can, unfortunately, lead to the overuse of antipsychotic drugs or other types of potentially harmful medication.

Providers need to ask themselves the following when it comes to serving their residents in a person-centered and therapeutic way:

1. How much time is your staff spending engaging with residents in a meaningful way?
2. Are residents engaged based on their unique interests and current abilities?
3. What is needed to focus more closely on older adults that need engagement the most?

To address these questions, it is important to empower staff members with a comprehensive engagement toolkit so they can focus on meaningfully engaging residents instead of having to set aside to do research and preparing programs. Their focus should be on assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating resident needs in real time.

A digital tool can support the accuracy and efficiency of this process by moving providers away from paper-based engagement strategies. To improve quality of life and truly decrease the use of pharmacologic interventions, Activity Directors need to provide the right type of engagement for the right resident at the right time.

As the CMS Rules of Participation continue to roll out, providers are required to promote resident agency in making their own daily decisions and to understand their unique interests so that a more person-centered perspective can be realized and older adults can live purposefully each day. By focusing on these three simple questions, we will drive better care for older adults.

Learn more about enhancing the resident experience by reading Reducing Risk and Keeping Residents Safe.

January 11, 2018