Resident Engagement: How to Optimize and Measure Success

Resident Engagement

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” – Peter Drucker

Many senior care providers are facing staffing shortages, residents living with higher acuity levels, and ever-tightening budgets, so it isn’t hard to see why communities struggle to find the time to closely examine the effectiveness of their current engagement metrics.

It’s time for skilled nursing and assisted living providers to measure engagement beyond the standards of care, which can include:

  • The CMS five-star quality rating system
  • Minimum Data Set (MDS) engagement indicators
  • Preparation for annual surveyor visits to avoid citations
  • Tracking amount of time spent “doing” something with a resident rather than capturing time spent on meaningful activities which can include simply “being” with the resident

By making a commitment to evaluate engagement comprehensively, communities are acknowledging that an individualized, digitized, and person-centered engagement program can have a multitude of benefits.

Using the support of digital technology, person-centered engagement in senior care communities needs to:

1. Engage all residents in a meaningful way;
2. Consider the current physical and cognitive abilities of residents in addition to their unique personal preferences;
3. Ensure that people who need engagement the most are receiving it.

For example:

  • Some residents may be using several antipsychotic or antidepressant medications that could be reduced or even eliminated when replaced with individualized engagement strategies. In 2016, 16.1% of nursing home residents were given antipsychotic medications[1].
  • A person living with Alzheimer’s disease or related dementias may be trying to communicate and their difficulty to do so may result in behavioral expressions that could be managed or avoided using person-centered engagement.
  • Pay close attention to residents that are struggling with loneliness, depression or lack of sleep and appetite. Recent research has shown that isolation and loneliness can be as harmful to one’s health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. To combat this, find creative ways to bring comfort and safety to a resident’s environment by consistently engaging them in a meaningful way.

How will a provider know that they’re optimizing engagement for every resident in their community? They’ll need to think beyond the standard metrics of engagement and begin measuring:

1. How many minutes of engagement is each resident receiving per day?
2. What is the percentage of activities that a resident is participating in that truly match their unique needs and preferences?
3. For residents that need engagement the most, how are staff increasing individualized activity opportunities for this population?

Using a non-drug intervention will not lead to immediate results and a person-centered status for senior care communities. By using more comprehensive engagement metrics, an important first step can be made toward documentation and evaluation although much of this remains paper-based. However, by digitizing and individualizing engagement strategies and metrics, providers can protect against the negative health outcomes associated with depression and loneliness while simultaneously improving quality of life for older adults as well as community staff members.

To learn more about incorporating non-pharmalogical interventions, watch our on-demand webinar below:

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