Are We Asking Ourselves the Right Questions about Resident Engagement?

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Are We Asking Ourselves the Right Questions about Resident Engagement?

Posted on December 18, 2017

“A musician must make music, an artist must paint, a poet must write, if he is to be ultimately at
peace with himself. What a man can be, he must be” – Abraham H. Maslow

This quote, from renowned American Psychologist Abraham H. Maslow, expertly explains the
importance of creating a world in which every person can use their unique talents, let their
passion shine and become who they ought to be.

Older adults living in senior care often find themselves depending on the assistance of their
caregivers. The environment they live in needs to be supportive in helping meet their needs so
that they can live meaningfully.

Are providers doing their best to ensure that this is the case when older adults move into their
assisted living or nursing home communities? A CDC report from 2016 seems to suggest that
there is plenty of room for improvement. According to the report, residents are typically receiving
just 11 minutes of engagement each day outside of assistance with activities of daily living.
Many times, engagement options provided in senior care consist of no more than the 3Bs:
Bingo, Bible and Birthdays. Unfortunately, residents who are most in need of person-centered
engagement can often feel neglected, bored and lonely which can lead to the overuse of
antipsychotic drugs or other types of potentially harmful medication.

Providers need to ask themselves the following when it comes to serving their residents in a
person-centered and therapeutic way:

1. How many minutes are staff engaging residents?
2. Are residents engaged based on their unique interests and current abilities?
3. Are we focused first on the older adults that needs engagement the most?

To address these questions, it is important to empower staff members with the right tools so
they are focused on meaningfully engaging residents, not spending time researching and
preparing programs. Their focus should be on assessing, planning, implementing and
evaluating needs and purpose at the resident and community level in real time.

A digital tool can support the accuracy and efficiency of this process by moving providers away
from paper-based strategies. To improve quality of life and truly decrease the use of
pharmacologic interventions, Activity Directors need to provide the right type of engagement for
the right resident at the right time.

As the CMS Rules of Participation continue to roll out, providers are required to promote
resident agency in making their own daily decisions and to understand their unique so that a
more person-centered perspective can be realized. This provides us with a unique opportunity
to help older adults live purposefully each day. By focusing on these three simple questions, we
will drive better care for older adults.