Senior Living Engagement Programs: Signature Programs in Senior Living



Rachel-FrancineRachel Francine
Musical Health Technologies

There are so many ways for a loved one to enjoy a rich, full life in a community setting beyond the social calendar and Bingo. Here are the three main categories into which signature senior living programming generally falls:

circleEvidence-based programs: When considering physical activities in senior living, ask about evidence-based exercise programs, as well as appropriate training of the associates leading the programs. For example, the exercise program at Benchmark communities was designed by an arthritis foundation and implemented to help all residents increase joint flexibility, boost range of motion, and maintain muscle strength.

circleThemed programs: Themed programs are a fun, purposeful way to keep residents engaged in community life. In 2017, for example, we learned about communities “Traveling the United States.” On their cross-country road trips, residents “visited” a different state each month to get a bird’s-eye view of different landmarks, traditions, and foods.

circleDesign-your-own programs: The best senior living communities will customize programs to meet the needs of individual residents. Through Benchmark’s “Dream Now” program, for instance, residents share their bucket-list wishes, and the community helps make those plans and intentions come true. By building relationships with residents, associates can even anticipate wishes and coordinate outings accordingly.

Learning about the purpose of community programs helps to gain a clear picture of the community’s priorities, and ways in which your loved one can thrive in that setting. What makes programming especially innovative?

What makes certain types of programs stand out? According to Rachel Francine, the most innovative companies do the following:

circleCommit resources (both people and funds) to innovation so that programs are piloted in a way that allows for proper evaluation by the provider’s decision-making team and includes the identification of goals and benchmarks that signify success.

circleEnsure that innovation teams have the internal juice they need to get good programs adopted across the communities that would benefit from the piloted program.

circleCommit resources not only to piloting the roll-out of programming, but also its continued monitoring.

“We have found that the number one reason for lapses in programming is that there is turnover at the community and new hires are not informed about existing resources,” says Francine. “Either at a local or regional level, making sure that programs are constantly running up to the best possible standards is important.”

Stay tuned for more tips and insights at Open Conversations
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Content for Open Conversations was developed in partnership with Caregiving Advice.

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