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4 Proven Ways to Increase Resident Activity Participation

4 Proven Ways to Increase Resident Activity Participation

The National Academies has called social isolation and loneliness “serious yet under appreciated public health risks that affect a significant portion of the older adult population.”

Senior living administrators know that social isolation and loneliness can impact older adults’ mental and physical wellness, even when they’re living within a community. One way to keep older adults at their best is encouraging them to participate in community activities , which is why communities often invest in robust life enrichment programming.

But what do you do when residents shy away from your excellent programming? Here are four proven ways to boost activity participation.

1. Use More Specific Activity Names

Generic activity names – game night, garden club, etc. – can inadvertently make your calendar look like a snooze fest. The solution? Get specific and creative with activity names, and use themes that relate to residents’ interests where you can. Here are some examples:

  • Game Night → Holiday Song Charades
  • Trivia → Beatles Trivia
  • Board Game → Scrabble Tournament: Part 1

Another way to grab attention is to make the names of activities active. Something like “Garden Club” becomes “Plant Spring Bulbs.” And an activity like “Yoga” becomes “Practice Restorative Yoga.”

2. Post Events in Multiple Locations and Multiple Formats

Residents can’t participate in activities they don’t know are happening, so it pays to post news and updates in multiple locations in multiple formats. This may include:

  • Paper notices posted in communal spaces, such as a community bulletin board
  • Invitations and notices sent to residents’ rooms
  • Digital invites, through tools such as Icon’s Community Engagement platform
  • Digital displays and signage located throughout your community
  • On-demand phone line for residents that broadcasts community events – with Icon’s Bi-Directional Communication tool.

Remember, not all residents get their information in the same way. An increasing number of older adults expect technology and prefer to access information digitally, but not all do. Besides, the more your residents see the message, the more likely it is to stay top of mind.

3. Send Digital Notifications to Residents and Family

Event and activity reminders are always beneficial – especially when family and friends are invited. Depending on the senior living technology your community uses, there are several ways to push notifications to people.

For example, staff can use Icon’s Calendar Central to send event announcements directly to residents’ Community Engagement inboxes. Or staff can invite families to events via the Family Engagement tool.

This tool can also automatically keep families informed about a resident’s level of participation and personal activities calendar. This means family members can notice low participation, encourage loved ones to get involved, and coordinate their visits more easily (say, to happen just after a baking project their loved one may want to share), all of which can boost participation.

Finally, Icon’s Bi-Directional Communication tool can send activity reminders directly to residents through text, email, phone call, or voice-enabled smart device. This strategy is particularly helpful for residents who tend to be forgetful – or spontaneous!

4. Get Residents Involved with Planning

Residents who help plan activities are more invested in those activities, increasing the chances that they will not only participate but also invite others to join.

As a bonus, having residents actively participate in planning can also help ward off the negative effects of social isolation. 

When it comes to idea generation, many heads are often better than few. Get a brainstorm team together. Your residents likely have tons of creative ideas that may not have occurred to your life enrichment staff. Just ask the residents from Ohio Living Westminster-Thurber who created their own committee to facilitate technology training workshops. Another benefit: Brainstorming sessions are a great way for residents to meet new people who share similar interests.

You can also lean on residents to help organize larger-scale events that are already on your calendar. Is there a holiday party coming up? Sounds like you need volunteers to help with music, menus, decorations, and more.

Icon’s Community Engagement tool even lets residents create their own events and self-led groups, separate from the community’s official programming.

Senior Living Technology Makes Life Enrichment Teams More Effective 

Leveraging senior living technology can make it easier for your staff to create effective programming, from idea generation to calendar management.

For example, calendar software, such as Icon’s Calendar Central, reduces administrative time spent on managing calendars by 80 percent. This means staff have more time to meaningfully engage with residents and inspire them to get involved in the community.

At the same time, a Bi-Directional Communication tool makes it easy for staff to collect and organize the data caregivers need to tailor life enrichment activities to individual interests and identify and flag residents who are at risk for loneliness.

Senior living communities are in a unique position to combat loneliness in older adults, assess their risk for poor health outcomes, and mitigate that risk with an engaging life enrichment calendar. To learn more about how senior living technology can help your community,

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