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What Does Engagement Optimization Look Like?

Silver Bluff Village is a not for profit life plan community in Canton, North Carolina. It has been providing services to older adults since 1962 with a philosophy that is deeply rooted in offering a homelike setting through a “de-institutionalized” approach that fosters a resident-centered environment.

Silver Bluff Village is a community with highly trained, professional caregivers, who are dedicated to providing quality long-term health care to individuals who need either limited or extensive assistance in meeting the challenges of daily living that come with age and the decline of physical and/or mental health. The community creates a person-centered experience for every resident they serve – no matter their interests or where they may be on their physical or cognitive journey.

In early 2018, Silver Bluff Village performed an analysis of their current services and supports and realized that their resident engagement approach could be optimized. They knew that putting together a strategy for optimizing resident engagement could be a daunting task. There are already many obstacles that front-line staff members face each day that can make prioritizing meaningful resident engagement feel simply out of reach. Common staff struggles in senior living communities today include completing documentation, planning program calendars and finding the time to learn about the changing needs and preferences of each resident. More often than not, there is just one staff person for every 60 residents and 80% of older adult residents are living with cognitive impairment or a form of Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias.  

For Silver Bluff Village, that meant that they could be leaving residents at risk of isolation, negative health events and without avenues to live purposefully each day. To increase efficiency and empower their staff, the organization selected a resident engagement platform to support their engagement optimization strategy. The Administrator at Silver Bluff Village, Lisa L. Leatherwood, MSN, RN, G-CNS, BC, shared how transformational this strategy became for the community:

“We tend to devalue activities and what they can do to benefit each resident. Now that the staff have a digital tool to help them optimize engagement, I as the Administrator can analyze their progress and success in real-time. We now measure and manage resident engagement – it is a key part of our business and strategy to help us deliver on our promise of person-centered care.”

When they began using Linked Senior’s digital engagement platform in January 2018, Silver Bluff’s goal was to reduce social isolation, decrease reliance on antipsychotic drugs and increase both staff efficiency and resident satisfaction. Prior to using the engagement platform, the community had faced a situation where less than 60% of their residents had meaningful engagement.

Thankfully the new engagement optimization approach paid off in just one year! Silver Bluff Village now engages all residents and found that engagement increased an impressive 172% across all of their care settings in just one year!

There were three areas that Silver Bluff Village focused on when adding a supportive digital engagement platform to their strategy:

  • Engagement – Before adopting a digital support system for staff, there was no guarantee that each resident would be engaged or that engagement was meeting their current needs and preferences. With a technology solution, staff and families could receive a real-time report of who was engaged each day and how.
  • Personalization – Every resident is different and keeping track of each individual’s changing needs and preferences can be difficult if that information is only available in a paper-based format. Using the digital platform staff could tailor activities each day that matched the resident’s current needs.
  • Non-Pharmacological Support – With digital support, staff had more time to get to know each resident and find what activities were most meaningful and had the greatest impact on a resident’s health and well-being. This efficiency meant that residents who may have been using antipsychotic drugs to decrease difficult care situations, were now being prescribed personalized engagement activities instead and medication became less of a go-to solution for staff.

Every community is different and digital technology is not a one-size fits all solution for achieving person-centered resident engagement. An organization needs to approach their engagement optimization strategy by building upon what has already been successful while also adding new programming and technology support that gives staff members the tools and time they need to meaningfully engage every person in their care.

June 14, 2019