Charles de Vilmorin

The majority of providers I talk to today share that they are not doing enough 1:1 engagement, and that means to me that we are failing our residents, especially the ones living with cognitive change or dementia. There are many reasons for this such as staffing issues, residents needing more and more attention, and documentation or administrative work that is time consuming.

Regardless, our job is to ensure that every resident finds purpose each day by offering meaningful engagement opportunities matched to their personal interests. This can mean different things to different people. For one person it may mean being able to join a large group of their peers in a rousing game of jeopardy in a common area of the community. For another person, it could mean having a long one-on-one conversation with a staff member about a topic they find particularly interesting. Neither one of these approaches is better than the other; they are simply two ways of engaging an individual based on their unique needs and preferences.

Since every resident is different, their reasons for needing 1:1 engagement will vary. Some residents do not enjoy a social setting all the time and would rather engage with just one or two others in a private setting. Other residents may be living with cognitive change and so a 1:1 setting that offers a quiet place to converse with just one person or family member is preferable. 

Here are three steps for creating a successful 1:1 strategy.

1.Put the Person First.

Resident engagement needs to be based on a holistic approach that prioritizes person-centered strategies and tools that make advancing wellness a priority. Thankfully, providers are starting to pay close attention to the importance of a multidimensional approach to wellness for a resident’s quality of life. 

2.Measure Engagement.

To unlock the opportunity of resident engagement, providers need to collect actionable data that will help them increase the quality of life for residents. Whether it is optimizing the experience they offer, providing better care or increasing satisfaction to help with their competitive advantage, a provider ultimately needs to explain how they are engaging the older adults they serve. An excellent example of this can be seen in a Linked Senior case study published in partnership with Juniper Village at Brookline in State College, Pennsylvania, in which the community was able to increase the number of engagement programs offered by 145% in one year thanks to real-time analysis and tracking completed with technology. 

3.Use an Interdisciplinary Approach.

It is impossible for the activity or life enrichment department to provide personalized engagement to all residents without the support of other team members. Providing authentic resident engagement must be an organization-wide effort, led by programming staff but supported by every department. Linked Senior is proud to offer a Champions for Change webinar series that provides free education on how to provide meaningful engagement no matter what department you work in. 

To deliver on the promise of a person-centered care experience, providers need to make sure they are setting their staff up for success by providing adequate opportunities for one-on-one activities for residents at the highest risk of loneliness and isolation. For many communities today, the biggest struggle is providing this type of engagement. They may not have enough staff, lack the tools needed to implement a strategy and are often unaware of which residents need this specific type of engagement because of their risk of isolation and poor quality of health. 

Optimizing individual programming must be a priority for providers today if they want to deliver on their promise of authentic engagement. A new decade of resident engagement is beginning and the goal should be to offer authentic engagement for every resident, especially activities that are one-on-one in nature. Read more about the State of Resident Engagement in 2020 in Linked Senior’s recently published whitepaper report:

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