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Resident singing on a microphone and a skilled nursing provider playing a ukulele to improve resident engagement

The State of Resident Engagement in 2019

This month, during National Activity Professionals Week from January 20-26, we celebrate the important work of Activity Professionals and other professionals who provide meaningful engagement to older adults every day. To highlight the important work of Activity Professionals in the senior care field, Linked Senior has created a first-of-its-kind White Paper that outlines the State of Resident Engagement in 2019. The research collected in this document emphasizes the fact that, the defining feature of a successful senior living or long-term care community is that it provides all residents, no matter their abilities or preferences, abundant opportunities to live with purpose — the true realization of person-centered experiences.

According to Lynne Katzmann, Ph.D., the Founder and President of Juniper Communities, “Resident engagement is today’s most untapped opportunity for enhancement of person-centered care, high quality of life for residents, and improved business indicators.” However, facing staffing shortages, residents living with higher acuity levels and ever tightening budgets, it isn’t difficult to understand why the senior care market may struggle to optimize engagement.

A 2018 national survey conducted by Linked Senior of more than 300 Activity Directors uncovered valuable information for the field. It revealed that more than half of survey participants across all care setting types indicated that documentation is the most challenging part of their work and frequently prevents them from spending the time they want to get to know residents and engage with them meaningfully. Through further data analysis, client surveys, and focus groups, Linked Senior also gathered exclusive insights on how engagement is done by level of care and how staff members spend their time conducting programming based on group size. A key finding was the fact that memory care residents are usually active in 3 times more 1:1 programs versus groups, and that a skilled nursing home resident is prevented from having more 1:1 or room visits because of a lack of staffing.

These new findings are an excellent starting point for a meaningful discussion on the importance of resident engagement. The research is helping advance the senior care field by aiding providers to examine more closely how they are currently helping older adults live purposefully each day. Based on this research, Linked Senior developed three key questions about resident engagement. Asked in a specific order, these questions help providers determine if they are truly serving their residents in a person-centered and therapeutic way:

  1. Are we engaging everyone?
  2. Are we engaging people based on their current needs and preferences?
  3. Are we thinking about well being and outcomes?

To answer these questions, providers can use technology that helps them accurately assess the needs of the resident, plan engagement strategies based on those needs, implement that plan, and evaluate their success.

The best way to overcome obstacles in resident engagement is to provide Activity Professionals with the time, tools, and budget they need to succeed. This is certainly worth the investment as quality engagement is correlated with better quality of life for all residents, longer lengths of stay, a lower cost of providing care, higher satisfaction for all stakeholders, and better referrals!

January 25, 2019