The future of senior living resident engagement is about empowering everyone to engage any resident – no matter their preferences or physical and cognitive abilities.

Today, the activity director job description starts like this:

“The Activity Director plans, implements and evaluates activities for residents. Designs programs to encourage socialization, provide entertainment, relaxation and fulfillment, and improve daily living skills to ensure the highest level of wellbeing for all residents.”

Most activity and life enrichment professionals do not have the tools and resources they need to achieve the objectives of the job outlined above. They often face staffing ratios of 1:90 with little budget, few tools or supportive technologies and often no clear line of communication with their executive director or other department heads.

This disconnect between what is promised to the resident and the expectations set for the activities department and what is actually implemented leads to staff burnout, poor resident satisfaction and quality of life and lower occupancy.

With this in mind, it isn’t hard to see why artificial intelligence could become a great accelerator in activities and life enrichment by enabling staff augmentation, streamlining decision making and creating technology enhancement improvements that allow staff to use the social prescription model. 

There are four pillars of activity and life enrichment programming that will be positively disrupted by artificial intelligence in the following ways: 

1. Assessment

When conducting the intake process for residents in senior living, the quality of the data input into the system is essential for team members to know how to best engage with every older adult. Artificial intelligence can improve this process by helping communities to better gather, understand and classify information about any resident.

2. Production

Artificial intelligence that is used in tools like ChatGPT can be a game changer in terms of staff efficiency because it makes it so easy to create, gather and modify data. It could allow any team member to engage any resident at any time, which fosters a true interdisciplinary approach. 

Consider at least two levels at which this technology could be used:

Level one: Engagement for one resident

Jeff was born in 1951, and he likes hockey and French music. Artificial intelligence can produce unlimited programs for meaningfully engaging Jeff that include text, images, songs and videos. These programs can then be deployed by any team member.

Level two: Engagement for the community

Using data from all of the residents in the community, artificial intelligence can improve programming by understanding the social clusters of residents (those who are all French or those who are piano lovers…) and then suggest programs to engage these groups. 

It can also suggest programs that take into account physical/cognitive abilities, such as residents who are hard of hearing, have different cognitive abilities or even those with changing preferences.

3. Delivery

Once an activity program is produced for a resident, there are then two obstacles that staff may face in having an impact on residents: dissemination and attention. 

Artificial intelligence-powered technology can empower any team member to communicate and deliver the right program at the right time for the right resident, which supports dissemination.

The bottleneck is then about how to capture the attention of the residents. This is overcome with the support of this new technology because it can suggest programming that fits the cognitive and physical needs of each resident as well as match activities to their unique preferences. 

4. Feedback

Activity and life enrichment professionals need feedback from residents on how they can improve programming. Artificial intelligence can streamline this process by making it easier for residents to offer their thoughts on how activities can be improved to best meet their needs. 

Any Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CTRS) or educated Activity Professional certified through the National Certification Council for Activity Professionals (NCCAP) will recognize the evidence-based process called Assess, Plan, Implement and Evaluate (APIE) detailed above. 

Solutions like artificial intelligence that can optimize this process will improve team efficiencies, resident satisfaction and quality of life as well as the provider’s occupancy.

Learn more about the future of resident engagement at Linked Senior’s annual #ActivitiesStrong Virtual Summit happening on Tuesday, June 27th.

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.

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