During National Activity Professionals Week from January 20-26, the important work of activity professionals and others will be celebrated. Their role is critical when it comes to providing meaningful engagement opportunities to older adults every day. Linked Senior has created a first-of-its-kind White Paper that outlines the State of Resident Engagement in 2019 which highlights this important work of activity professionals in the senior care field. The research collected in this paper confirms that the defining feature of a successful senior living or long-term care community should be that it provides all residents, no matter their abilities or preferences, abundant opportunities to live with purpose.

“Resident engagement is today’s most untapped opportunity for enhance of person-centered care, high quality of life for residents and improved business indicators,” says to Lynne Katzmann, Ph.D., the Founder and President of Juniper Communities. This can be easier said than done as senior care communities are increasingly facing staffing shortages, residents living with higher acuity levels and every tightening budgets. So it isn’t difficult to understand why the senior care market may struggle to optimize meaningful and purposeful engagement for all residents.

Last year, Linked Senior conducted a national survey of more than 300 activity directors, which uncovered valuable information for the field. For instance, more than half of survey participants across all care setting types indicated that documentation is the most challenging part of their work and frequently prevents them from spending the time they want to get to know residents and engage with them meaningfully.

Using additional data analysis, client surveys and focus groups, Linked Senior also gathered exclusive insights on how engagement is done by level of care and how staff members spend their time conducting programming based on group size. One finding was that memory care residents are usually active 3 time more in 1:1 programs versus group programming – and that a skilled nursing home resident is prevented from having more 1:1 engagement opportunities or individual room visits because of a lack of staffing.

The findings in this white paper are an exciting starting point for a meaningful discussion on the importance of meaningful resident engagement. This research will help advance the field by helping providers examine more closely how they are currently helping older adults live purposefully each day. From the data and findings, Linked Senior has developed three key questions about resident engagement which help providers determine if they are serving their residents in a truly person-centered and therapeutic way:

  1. Are we engaging everyone?
  2. Are we engaging people based on their current needs and preferences?
  3. Are we thinking about wellbeing and outcomes?

Using technology to support their strategy, providers can address each of these questions by accurately assessing the needs of the resident, planning engagement strategies based on those needs, implementing that plan, and evaluating their success in real time.

To overcome obstacles that prevent meaningful resident engagement, providers can start by providing activity professionals with the time, tools, and budget they need to succeed. This is certainly worth the investment as quality engagement is correlated with better quality of life for all residents, longer lengths of stay, a lower cost of providing care, higher satisfaction for all stakeholders, and better referrals!

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