Since September 2017, Linked Senior has been working with Responsive Health Management in Toronto on a research study using a quasi-experimental repeated-measures design at three RHM long-term care and memory care communities. We announced this month the preliminary results of this research study on resident engagement which is funded by the Baycrest-led Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), in partnership with RHM and Western Oregon University.

The initial results from this important study have underscored the benefits of optimizing person-centered engagement for residents in long-term care communities. An investment by providers in strategies that are therapeutic and non-pharmacological is not only good for residents but also for a company’s bottom line. Through their research, we’ve highlighted how residents that are engaged based on their current needs and preferences experience better health outcomes than those who are not engaged in that way.

RHM residents participating in this study were grouped either in a high-engagement or a low-engagement category. When comparing the two groups, being in the high-engagement group was associated with:

  •      20% decrease in antipsychotic medication use
  •      18% decrease in aggressive behaviors
  •      7% increase in social engagement
  •      3% increase in cognitive functioning

In other words, being highly engaged in recreational activity is associated with increased cognitive functioning and social engagement, as well as decreased aggression and antipsychotic medication use. The data is based on a total sample size of n = 185 residents (Low Engagement n= 75, High Engagement n = 110). An infographic outlining the research results is available here.

These research findings build on a growing body of academic work that examines how therapeutic engagement can positively impact the health and well-being of older adults living with cognitive impairment, including Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Some of the more recent examples of these types of findings include:

  • A study published in 2016 in which the authors found statistically significant increases in cognition and decreases in depression among the nursing home residents participating in reminiscence therapy. (The full research article is here.)
  • The authors of this study concluded that music therapy is inexpensive and can stimulate cognitive function, improve mood and reduce behavioral problems for those living with Alzheimer’s disease. (The full research article is here.)
  • The authors found that agitation disruptiveness increased during standard care for those living in nursing homes with moderate to severe dementia and decreased during music therapy, and that prescription of psychotropic medication increased significantly more often during standard care than during music therapy. (The full research article is here.)

Ultimately, the results from this Linked Senior research will help providers gain support for the value proposition of investing in therapeutic engagement interventions in long-term care communities. Optimizing person-centered resident engagement not only improves a provider’s return on investment in therapeutic engagement strategies but also has a measurable impact on resident experience and quality of life every day.

Charles de Vilmorin is the CEO and co-founder of Linked Senior.