This October, Icon sponsored an ICAA webinar on gamification and wellness in senior living. There, our CEO Ryan Galea and other senior living leaders broke down what gamification is, why residents benefit from it, and how communities can adopt gamified experiences.
Keep reading for a recap of the webinar and the six questions you should ask about gamification before implementing it in your community.
1. What is gamification and what are its benefits to residents?
At its core, gamification is any use of game design to enhance an otherwise repetitive experience. Sure, you may recognize gamification from its prevalence in the learning and development space, but it can also dramatically improve residents’ day-to-day.
How? By fostering deeper engagement with your community’s life enrichment programming.
For instance, gamification might look like setting up a monthly fitness competition for your residents. The benefits here are varied. Yes, there’s the obvious: improving physical fitness. But this gamification can also connect residents with each other and, thus, promote social wellness. What’s more, that’s just one possible application of gamification. Applying gamification to other aspects of your community will yield different benefits.
2. Why should you consider gamification for your residents?
Greater engagement is, of course, reason enough to consider gamification. But gamification also offers communities something else of value: the ability to benchmark various objectives and track progress. In other words, it gives you more data to measure your community and ultimately improve its operations.
Consider where your residents are starting with their physical health. Maybe the first gamification module includes a five-minute walk. After successful completion, maybe the goal moves to a six-minute walk, and so on. In this use case, gamification tracks participation and completion rates on an ongoing basis.
Staff can then use this data to tailor activities to residents. And residents can use this same information to motivate themselves and check the progress they’re making.
3. Which best practices will support resident adoption?
People often put residents and their families into this mystical bubble. And that lends itself to overthinking what adoption methods work best. But the truth is that many adoption strategies for the broader populace can also extend to senior living communities. A helpful starting point, though, is thinking about ways you’ve been supported or wanted support when trying out a new routine or piece of technology. Use that line of questioning to guide your adoption tactics.
Communication is key, as well. Tell residents why you’re implementing this gamification. Explain the benefits, the day-to-day actions, and why you feel it’s a fit. Residents are far more likely to buy into your initiatives if they can understand their purposes.
This is where tapping into a pilot group is particularly beneficial. You want residents to influence other residents. It’s another way you can help generate that buy-in. [For a more in-depth list of adoption and implementation strategies, click here.]
4. How can you measure the effectiveness of gamification?
There are plenty of benchmarks and tests you can use to monitor progress with something like a fitness gamification program (e.g., resting heart rates, steps taken, calories burned, etc.). But your gamification measurement shouldn’t differ much from how you measure the effectiveness of your life enrichment program overall.
Think: are we offering various games? Do we use gamification to help achieve various outcomes, like improved brain health or higher attendance rates? Do residents enjoy the games we’re offering?
Gamified experiences look different from community to community. That’s because your community’s KPIs and plans should ultimately shape your gamification efforts and the goals you’re hoping to achieve with them.
For instance, if your community is focused on promoting attendance rates, you would likely measure your gamification program on its ability to promote resident engagement. If your community is focused on improving resident health, you might gear your gamification programs around wellness-driven metrics like steps walked, cups of water drank, or calories consumed.
5. How can senior living technology support your gamification efforts?
One of technology’s biggest value drivers is that it helps your staff get more time back with their residents. The same can be said of senior living technology that enhances your gamification efforts.
Just consider the work that might go into a basic “daily step” competition. Your staff has to…
- Confirm which residents are participating.
- Regularly track the number of steps each resident takes.
- Intermittently share live results before the competition ends.
- Create a leaderboard that every participant can access.
- Communicate the final results with participants.
If there’s no way to automate any of this data entry, particularly how many steps residents are walking, you’re looking at a competition that could consume hours of staff time each week. (And the list above didn’t even include all the prep work that goes into planning the event.)
With the right forms of senior living technology, such as engagement platforms, your staff can simplify and automate a great deal of this gamification work. This way, you can achieve two desired outcomes: (1) your residents’ physical, social, or emotional wellness improves and (2) your staff saves time and gets to spend more of it with residents.
6. What are some real-world examples of gamification in senior living?
Fitness tests are a common example of gamification. And there are plenty of ways to infuse more fun beyond a standard leaderboard.
Kelly Stranburg, one of the speakers in this webinar, highlighted an experience where she and other community leaders hosted an awards show – like The Oscars – to commemorate older adults who hit fitness benchmarks. This helped encourage participation and foster a sense of joy from a resident base that also benefited from the physical and social elements of this gamification.
The same can be said of brain games, like puzzles or crosswords. For example, a community Wordle competition could help cultivate a sense of belonging while promoting mental acuity.
The Best Forms of Gamification Come Naturally to Your Community Members
While it makes sense to see what other communities are doing with gamification, it’s important to remember that your community is unique.
Think about the activities, routines, and resident needs in your community. Ask yourself: is there a way to make these aspects of our community more fun? Are we already gamifying parts of our life enrichment programming? If so, how are residents responding?
Turn to gamification when there’s a demonstrative benefit and receptiveness to it in your community. Gamification isn’t something you adopt just because there’s, say, a leaderboard built into your engagement platform. Let your residents, staff, and families inform your gamification programming. That’s how you secure buy-in and enthusiasm.Interested in seeing how Icon’s senior living tech can kickstart your gamification program and deepen resident engagement? Grab some time with us or set up a demo!