Jennifer Stelter, Psy.D., & Alisa Tagg

The goal of the #ActivitiesStrong initiative is to acknowledge, educate and empower activity and life enrichment professionals in senior living communities. One way we’ve done this is by developing and conducting research on the best ways to provide quality resident engagement. We have now added a new tool to our already robust toolkit. 

The Elder Engagement Performance Improvement (EEPI) tool is a self-inventory to assess and set goals to improve how senior living providers deliver the experience residents want and deserve. It is rooted in research, professional knowledge and unique data gathered through the #ActivitiesStrong initiative, with support from the National Association of Activity Professionals (NAAP), the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP) and other leading organizations as well as Linked Senior surveys and evidence-based research.

This resource will help further demonstrate how improving resident engagement can positively impact quality including better clinical and financial outcomes which in turn will lead to more resources being directed toward activity and life enrichment departments. Everyone wins with better engagement; it is a smarter business model and supports our Elders by prioritizing their desire to live with meaning and purpose. 

In September 2017, findings from Linked Senior’s research project, “Advancing Recreation and Cognitive Engagement,” in collaboration with Responsive Health Management, Inc., Western Oregon University, and the Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation (CABHI), showed that improving resident engagement can truly impact quality. Residents that participated in the project experienced a 20% decrease in antipsychotic use, an 18% decrease in aggressive behaviors, a 20% increase in social engagement and a 3% increase in cognitive performance.

Earlier this year, Linked Senior continued its research by establishing the Resident Engagement Institute (REI) as a way to further examine how resident engagement impacts fall reduction, lowers return to hospitalization rates, increases lengths of stay, decreases depression, and much more. By understanding how activity and life enrichment departments are running, we can better identify opportunities for advancement in the field.

Charles de Vilmorin

How can staff make the most of their time and education? Are they able to apply the resident assessment information efficiently and effectively to meet the preferences and needs of every resident to improve overall quality of care? Are they applying empirically validated approaches to their resident engagement practices? Are they tracking key indicators like attendance, preference matching, satisfaction and more with technology-based platforms? And are they evaluating how this engagement is impacting their residents’ clinical outcomes and the organization’s financial performance?

We started looking at these areas by distributing the Resident Engagement Index Score (REIS) tool in 2019-2020 which collected more than 700 responses from activity and life enrichment professionals nationally. We found that technology-based platforms can help enhance the role of what activity and life enrichment staff can deliver:

  • They are 2x more likely to create individualized care plans 
  • 133% more likely to build groups and community 
  • 162% are more likely to report knowing if residents are engaged in programming in real-time lending to more accurate activity recording
  • 183% are more likely to report if activities match their residents’ preferences leading to quality programming 

These results truly validate what person-centered advocates like Pioneer network have been saying for years: optimizing meaningful and purposeful engagement for every resident leads to the highest quality of life and care. Building off the success of the REIS tool, Linked Senior has now launched the EEPI tool. This inventory tool will examine how person-centered care incorporates the APIE process: assessing residents, planning programming, implementing programs, and evaluating progress and outcomes. 

The information gathered will be used to help professionals, like yourself, understand the current state of resident engagement within your organization and where improvements can be made to ensure that activities are a must-have and empirically proven as clinically necessary.  

This tool was built with the collaboration of the following amazing individuals and organizations:

  • Katy Abbott, PhD, MGS – Miami University, Scripps Gerontology Center
  • Jenn Taylor, PhD, CTRS – University of WI at La Crosse
  • Pei Chun Hsieh, PhD, CTRS – Brock University, Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies
  • Alisa Tagg, BA, ACC-EDU, CADDCT, DCP, CDCS, Association Director, National Association of Activity Professionals
  • Linked Senior, NAAP and NCCAP

Start your growth, change and advancement here by taking the EEPI.

Jennifer Stelter, Psy.D., CDP, CADDCT, CCTP, is a clinical psychologist who specializes in dementia and mental health care. She is the co-owner and CEO of NeuroEssence, owner and CEO of The Oil Doctor, PsyD, Director of Product Research for Linked Senior, Chief Resident Engagement Officer of the Resident Engagement Institute, Staff Psychologist at Allow Wellness and Care Navigators, and an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College. 

Alisa Tagg, BA, ACC-EDU, CADDCT, DCP, CDCS, Association Director of the National Association of Activity Professionals, has been a certified activity consultant since 2006 and an activity director working primarily in skilled nursing facilities since 1995. Alisa currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the Southern Nevada Activity Professional Association.

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

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.