Why Your Resident Engagement Metrics Aren’t Working

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Why Your Resident Engagement Metrics Aren’t Working

Posted on January 25, 2018

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

Facing staffing shortages, residents living with higher acuity levels and ever tightening budgets, it isn’t difficult to understand why senior care communities may not have the time to closely examine the effectiveness of their current engagement metrics.

Skilled nursing and assisted living providers may not be evaluating anything past the standard measures of engagement which can include:

  • The CMS five-star quality ratings 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 intentionally setting aside time to evaluate engagement, communities are acknowledging that an individualized and person-centered engagement program can have a multitude of benefits when executed using a digital approach.

To pursue a truly person-centered approach, with the support of digital technology, a senior care provider needs to:

  1. Engage all residents in a meaningful way;
  2. Develop engagement plans based on the personal preferences of each resident while considering their current physical and cognitive abilities;
  3. Ensure that people who need engagement the most are receiving it. For example:
    • Some residents may currently 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 has 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 are optimizing engagement for every resident in their community? They will need to think beyond the standard metrics of engagement and instead consider measuring:

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

A community cannot simply use a non-drug intervention and anticipate immediate results and a person-centered status. Inserting appropriate metrics into this process is and important first step but most documentation and evaluation remains paper-based. 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.

[1] http://theconsumervoice.org/issues/issue_details/misusing-antipsychotics