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A male senior living resident blowing bubbles as part of a resident engagement program

High-Quality Resident Engagement Doesn’t Mean High Cost

“Given the large number of residents, and their extraordinary differences in terms of background and interest and physical/cognitive abilities, it is impossible for us to deliver on our person-centered care promise without being data driven and using tools to measure and manage resident engagement.” – Jill McKenrick, Connections Director, Juniper Village at Brookline

At a time when reports of poor performance and quality in senior communities are rampant, and the ability of communities to address resident behavioral health needs has been brought into question, it is encouraging to find organizations championing the importance of investing in high-quality resident engagement. The team at Juniper Village at Brookline, located in State College, Pennsylvania, provide a comprehensive care continuum at a community that houses 250 older adults. In 2017, staff members at Juniper Village recognized that changes needed to be made in their engagement strategy in order to increase overall participation rates in their programs, increase the number of programs offered and provide high quality education to staff on how to improve resident assessments. The changes took time, but the community knew that making these key adjustments in their approach to engagement would lead to a high return on investment in both their business and resident quality of life.

A recent case study published by Linked Senior outlines the success that Juniper Village achieved after implementing their improved resident engagement strategy. By employing digital technology, staff members were able to personalize programming for each resident and assess any changes in resident ability or preferences in real time. In just one year, the community was able to increase the number of programs offered by 145%. Residents’ participation rate also increased from 65% to 93% during that same time, from 12 minutes per day, per resident of programming to 21 minutes per day. One resident even increased their annual program attendance from 422 events to 1,118 events. Juniper Village also dramatically improved their resident assessment protocol by teaching staff members how to use a conversational approach when interviewing residents, and how to explain that their answers would influence the unique engagement program plan. Using this technique, staff had a better understanding of each resident’s history and could then match them with others who had similar interests and backgrounds.

Once Juniper Village committed to optimizing their resident engagement by improving assessment, social connection, and staff efficiency with the support of digital technology, the impact on business outcomes was clear. A reduction in social isolation, increased resident engagement and satisfaction and increased day-to-day staff efficiency, are all related to cost savings for the community while simultaneously increasing opportunities for meaningful and purposeful living for each resident. These types of results were also validated by a research study funded by Baycrest where high levels of engagement were associated with:

  • 20% increase in social engagement
  • 3% increase in cognitive functioning
  • 20% reduction in antipsychotic use
  • 18% reduction in behaviors associated to dementia
  • Generation of more than $22,000 annual cost savings per community through increased staff efficiency

In Pennsylvania, Juniper Village is not the only shining example of resident engagement as a business driving force. The Abramson Center for Jewish Life has made person-centered care and planning a foundation of their model. The Center emphasizes the belief that focusing on the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of each person is the only way to have a complete picture that can guide healthcare accordingly.  It is also known for supporting the development of  the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI), an assessment tool that helps staff identify resident preferences. Also located in Pennsylvania is the Kendal Corporation, an organization that has strived for more than 45 years to treat every person with dignity by enhancing their quality of life, security and wellness. Kendal has led the way by being the first organization to take steps to reduce the use of physical restraints for people living with dementia in Pennsylvania nursing homes to just 0.7% in 2015. Kendal of Hudson also reduced the use of antipsychotics as chemical restraints from 15% to 0 in just under 6 months.

The success of Juniper, The Abramson Center and the Kendal Corporation proves that a strong investment in person-centered resident engagement leads to business growth and high levels of resident care and satisfaction. This is more important than ever in the state of Pennsylvania, which is now ranked as having the fourth oldest population in the United States with 16% of the population over the age of 60, according to data from the Pennsylvania Homecare Association.

July 8, 2019