The hidden resident is not hiding — she is waiting to be engaged!
Are you meaningfully engaging every resident in your community? Too often the answer is I don’t know.
Most long-term care and senior living providers believe their activities program addresses the needs and preferences of each of their residents every day, but they have no data or systems to back that up. Likely there are more than a handful of residents in communities who are hidden from us, just waiting to be meaningfully engaged. That must be our priority.
The evidence based assess, plan, implement and evaluate (APIE) model shows the important steps of engagement: assessing the needs of the resident, planning engagement based on those needs, implementing the plan in real-time and then evaluating their successes based on the changing needs and preferences of the resident. This can all be done more easily with the help of technology.
It’s time to consider a simple resident engagement framework with technology support!
There are three key resident engagement questions that providers need to be asking themselves:
- Are we engaging everyone?
- Starting with choice and preferences?
- Enabling wellbeing and outcomes?
To answer these questions, providers need to give staff members the right tools so they can focus on meaningfully engaging residents. According to a Linked Senior survey in August 2022, when asked if they have enough tools and staff to engage all their residents with purpose, 34% of the 299 activity professional respondents said no.
Another obstacle is that a lot of the APIE work that an activity professional does is still paper based. Paper-based documentation can prevent our teams from having the time, data, and insights they need to get to know residents and engage them in a meaningful way. A Linked Senior survey of activity professionals at the end of 2022 found that of the 161 respondents, 20% were not tracking activities attendance and 35% were tracking using only paper.
But by tracking attendance and engagement electronically, in real-time, life enrichment professionals can see how much time is being spent on one-on-one engagement compared to group engagement, how often residents are being engaged and residents’ satisfaction with their engagement. Staff can also more easily collect information about their residents, especially those who may have been hidden, and put it to use, so they can spend more time engaging with them rather than organizing, planning, and documenting.
As you examine your current resident engagement strategy, try using this framework to help set up your teams for succeed as you improve your approach:
- A program is better than no program/engagement
- Programming based on each resident’s preference is ideal
- Therapeutic engagement is best
This framework is simple, but the order of the steps matters a lot! Many times, activity professionals will focus on step 2 and 3 without first making sure to locate and meaningfully engage hidden residents in their community who are at the most risk for loneliness, boredom and helplessness.
Learn more about how to create and implement your own framework here.
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.