It isn’t uncommon to see New Year resolutions quickly set aside, but it is important to remember that there is value in setting goals. This is relevant to resident engagement because we have been struggling to implement measurable goals that can be easily monitored. Thankfully, more senior living providers are taking steps toward evaluating their work in creating meaningful experiences for the older adults in their care.
Setting Measurable Goals
During one of our webinars in the Linked Senior Champions for Change series, I shared that the industry has started establishing measurable goals. This includes how many residents they are engaging meaningfully each month. I believe that many providers will aim to meaningfully engage at least 85% of their residents. To achieve this goal, a provider must hold their team accountable and provide them with resources. This includes collaborating with staff to find ways to overcome the challenges they currently face:
- Little recognition from management
- Increasing staff turnover
- Tight budgets
- Hardly any opportunities for affordable and accessible professional development and training
Implementing Tools to Track Engagement
So why isn’t engaging 85% or more of our residents each month already an industry standard? The role of activity professionals is to maximize resident well-being with person-centered programming every day. Unfortunately, we don’t yet have all the tools we need to achieve this. In December 2019, Linked Senior conducted a survey of 207 activity professionals. 75% said they do not have a tool that allows them to report, in real time, on resident engagement. Instead, they are using paper or excel for attendance tracking. Several people also noted that they don’t track engagement at all! Given this, it isn’t surprising that we are struggling to deliver on our promise of a customized experience to residents and their families.
There is however a clear path toward authentic and measurable engagement. When setting a goal, providers should simultaneously establish a way to measure progress toward that goal. This strategy helps us understand how to adapt to the changing needs and preferences of the older adults we serve. When Linked Senior speaks to providers, most of them recognize a need for more one-on-one programming. Group activities can be great for socialization and staff efficiency, but there are some older adults who aren’t fulfilled by socializing in a large group. Others would greatly benefit from more individualized attention as they work to find purpose in their day. This is an important goal, but I always ask providers if they have put a strategy in place for measuring toward the desired outcome.
Engagement Leads to Meaning and Purpose
We have a unique opportunity to move from the old standard of activities to one of authentic and measurable resident engagement. This will require all departments within an organization to commit to understanding the needs and preferences of each resident, and and offer engagement opportunities that bring meaning and purpose to their lives.