When deciding on a life plan community, older adults consider a wide range of factors. What’s the price? What does it look like? How happy do residents seem? Another important consideration: activity programming. In fact, it’s something that can turn the tide for as many as 32 percent of older adults.
But running a life enrichment program that incorporates various dimensions of wellness and keeps residents engaged is easier on paper than it is in practice – and it’s not easy on paper.
Here, we’ll dig into a foundational part of life enrichment programming – new resident activity evaluations – and how you can both conduct and gather valuable insights from them.
New Resident Activity Evaluations: The Physical
Depending on the average acuity of your residents – and the level of care your community provides/offers – physical assessment results could vary widely. And that’s why conducting these assessments is so important. Knowing the physical needs and abilities of your residents plays a massive role in the activities you offer.
While every senior living community is unique, most assessments evaluate older adults’ ability to perform activities of daily living (ADLs). Here, we’ll highlight several ADL categories that might make their way into the physical portion of your new resident activity evaluation:
- Mobility. Can the resident walk and stand independently? If so, how long? If not, what device(s) do they use to move through the world?
- Transportation and Shopping. If traveling beyond walking distance, does the new resident have a driver’s license or access to a car? If not, are they able to arrange their own rides to and from chores like shopping?
- Home Maintenance. Is the resident able to, say, clean kitchens after eating or tidy up living spaces? If not, is there a physical limitation that prevents them from accomplishing this?
- Communication Management. Does the resident know how to use phones or other mobile devices they might need to contact others? Can they reply to messages in a timely manner?
Remember, these questions aren’t qualitative. They’re evaluative. The more you know about a resident, the more you can tailor enrichment programming to them. So, for instance, if you have a new resident that experiences chronic hip pain but wants to stay active, you might prioritize getting them set up with an in-room TV that can broadcast on-demand fitness classes.
New Resident Activity Evaluations: The Social
Residents’ physical and cognitive abilities are just one part of an activity evaluation. The second deals with socialization. What do residents like? What do they dislike? Any favorite sports teams? How about go-to hobbies?
One way to conduct this part of the evaluation is by taking a page out of Cedarhurst Senior Living’s playbook. At Cedarhurst, residents and their loved ones are encouraged to fill out what staff members call a “Life Story.” This Life Story is a multi-page document filled with tidbits about the resident’s life, from fond childhood memories to previous occupations to favorite foods.
And for residents in AL or Memory Care communities that might have difficulty remembering parts of their life, a Life Story acts as a single source of truth. It’s the place where staff can verify anecdotes, preferences, or opinions and foster a deeper connection with that resident.
For example, maybe a resident doesn’t want to attend a weekly physical therapy appointment. A staff member can check the Life Story, find out this resident loves chocolate ice cream, and use the chocolate ice cream as an incentive to attend the appointment. Is this complex? No. But is it effective? Yes. And it demonstrates to residents that your staff members care about their wellbeing – physical and emotional.These facts and interests about your residents don’t have to live in a binder, though. With the right senior living technology – like our Community Engagement platform – residents can share interests on their profile within the member directory (Figure 1).
This makes it easy for new and existing residents to connect with each other. No matter what age you are, moving can feel daunting. That’s why it’s so important to build in easy ways for residents to start and cultivate relationships. It instills a sense of belonging.
Translating What You Learn in Evaluations to Your Community Programming
The resident activity evaluation process doesn’t end once the evaluation is over. The best communities find ways of storing and sharing this information with staff. Maybe that’s by assembling the life stories of your community’s residents in a shared binder. Or maybe that’s by creating digital lists of residents – in your activity calendar platform – based on the activities they like.
The benefit of this second option is it’s easier for you to quickly add or change resident information. After all, a resident’s life story isn’t set in stone once they move to a senior living community. Plenty of things can change. Plus, an activity calendar platform houses all of your life enrichment programming information, from room scheduling to event attendance to feedback forms.
This feedback form piece is crucial, too. You might know that many of your residents enjoy art because they list it as an interest on their profiles. Because you have this information, you organize a trip to a local art museum. Then, once the event has passed, residents automatically receive a prompt asking them to “like” or “dislike” the event. Residents click one of the options. You get the data.
Who knows? If that art museum event was a hit, you can even make it a recurring event on a quarterly basis. The point here is that you want to create a feedback loop. Whether you see it this way or not, residents are sharing their activity opinions with you when they tell you their likes and dislikes. It’s up to you and your life enrichment team to accept that feedback and continually seek it out.
A Happy Staff Leads to Happy Residents
Managing a life enrichment program isn’t easy, especially if you’re like many other communities struggling with staff turnover. Fortunately, the right senior living technology can help by both relieving staff workloads and simplifying workflows.
There’s a reason the best communities to work at are often the best communities to live in. When staff members are happy and look forward to work, residents can tell. And it makes a difference.
Interested in learning how Icon’s senior living technology can help you optimize your life enrichment programming? Shoot us a message!