As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was the most challenging year in the history of the senior living industry. Health and safety has been the main focus of leaders as they grapple with the deadly rate of virus infections and its impact on the lives of millions of older adults, staff and their families. Now that the COVID-19 vaccine is being distributed, providers are turning their attention to the most devastating impact of the pandemic: social isolation. 

Thankfully, resident engagement — a long undervalued discipline in senior living — provides a powerful antidote to this health and wellbeing concern. This will be the year of resident engagement and to champion this effort, the #ActivitiesStrong initiative, led by Linked Senior, has launched the 2021 Resident Engagement SWOT challenge! 

A SWOT analysis is the standard tool to support strategic planning and goal setting so that teams can reach their strategic objective. A supporting document can be downloaded free to help improve resident engagement.

Turning a goal into reality requires that an individual resolve to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life. When creating your resolutions for the new year remember that: 

  • 46% of participants who made common New Year’s resolutions (e.g. weight loss, exercise programs, quitting smoking) were likely to succeed over 10 times as much compared to those deciding to make life changes at other times of the year, in a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology.
  • 35% of participants in one survey who failed their New Year’s Resolutions admitted they had unrealistic goals, 33% of participants didn’t keep track of their progress, and 23% forgot about them; about one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

The SWOT analysis challenge was created in a way to help organizations keep their resolutions as they related to resident engagement. Using this tool providers can make meaningful engagement a top priority by:

  • Choosing ONE specific, realistic goal. Make this your New Year’s resolution!
  • Having a detailed, written plan so the goal is easier to stick with.
  • Starting with small steps toward your goal.
  • Getting support from your team.
  • Renewing your motivation.
  • Tracking your progress.
  • Celebrating your success along the way.

May 2021 be the year of resident engagement!

Jenn Taylor, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of recreation management and therapeutic recreation at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Charles de Vilmorin is the CEO and co-founder of Linked Senior.