High-Quality Resident Engagement is Affordable

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High-Quality Resident Engagement is Affordable

Posted on July 22, 2019

“Given the large number of residents, and their extraordinary differences in terms of background and interest and physical/cognitive abilities, it is impossible for us to deliver on our person-centered care promise without being data driven and using tools to measure and manage resident engagement.”

– Jill McKenrick, Connections Director, Juniper Village at Brookline

When it is becoming more common to see reports of poor performance and quality in senior communities and the ability of these organizations to address resident behavioral health needs has been brought into question, it is encouraging to find organizations highlighting the importance of high-quality resident engagement.  The team at Juniper Village at Brookline, located in State College, Pennsylvania, provides a comprehensive care continuum at a community that is called home by approximately 250 older adults. Two years ago, staff members at Juniper Village recognized that their engagement strategy was outdated and that the time had come to  increase overall participation rates in their programs, increase the amount of programs offered and provide high quality education to staff on how to improve resident assessments. The changes would take time but ultimately the community knew that making these key adjustments in their engagement approach, which didn’t have to be costly,  would lead to a high return on investment in both their business and resident quality of life.

 Linked Senior  recently published a case study published about the success that Juniper Village achieved after implementing their revised resident engagement strategy. Using  digital technology, the staff members were able to personalize resident programming and assess in real-time any changes in resident ability or preferences. After only one year with the new strategy, the community increased the number of engagement programs offered by 145%! In addition to that, the participation rate of residents in programming went from 65% to 93% during that same time frame, moving from 12 minutes/day, per resident to 21 minutes/day. Juniper also shared the story of one resident who increased their annual program attendance from 422 events to 1,118 events. By making a modest investment in improving resident engagement, Juniper Village also saw dramatic improvements around resident assessments. Education was provided to all staff members on how to use a conversational approach when interviewing residents and how to explain clearly that the residents’ answers to the questions would inform their own unique engagement program plan. Consequently, staff had a better knowledge of each resident’s history and could then easily match them with others who had similar interests and backgrounds.

It wasn’t until Juniper Village committed to optimizing their resident engagement by improving assessment, social connection and staff efficiency with the support of digital technology, that they could see the impact on their business outcomes.. A reduction in social isolation, increased resident engagement and satisfaction and increased day-to-day staff efficiency, are all related to cost savings for the community while simultaneously increasing opportunities for meaningful and purposeful living for each resident. This positive return on investment is also validated by a research study funded by Baycrest where high levels of engagement were associated with:

  • 20% increase in social engagement
  • 3% increase in cognitive functioning
  • 20% reduction in antipsychotic use
  • 18% reduction in behaviors associated to dementia
  • Generation of more than $22,000 annual cost savings per community through increased staff efficiency

In Pennsylvania, Juniper Village is not the only shining example of resident engagement as a business driving force. The Abramson Center for Jewish Life has made person-centered care and planning a foundation of their model and emphasize that a focus on the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of each person is the only way to have a complete picture that can guide healthcare accordingly.  The Center is also known for supporting the development of  the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI) which is an assessment tool that helps staff identify resident preferences. Also located in Pennsylvania is the Kendal Corporation, an organization that has strived for more than 45 years to treat every person with dignity by enhancing their quality of life, security and wellness. In fact, Kendal has led the way by being the first organization to take steps to  reducing the use of physical restraints for people living with dementia in Pennsylvania nursing homes to just 0.7% in 2015. The same type of efforts also reduced the use of antipsychotics, often described as chemical restraints, at Kendal of Hudson who actually reduced their use from 15% to 0 is just under 6 months.

The success of Juniper, The Abramson Center and the Kendal Corporation confirms that a strong investment in person-centered resident engagement leads to business growth and high levels of resident care and satisfaction. This is more important than ever in the state of Pennsylvania which is now ranked as having the fourth oldest population in the United States with 16% of the population over the age of 60, according to data from the Pennsylvania Homecare Association.