As the global population continues to age, the need for high-quality senior living communities is increasingly critical. At the heart of this array of choices, the resident experience stands as the cornerstone of quality care and meaningful engagement. But why is the resident experience so vital for our residents, and how can it be enhanced to meet the changing demands of the senior population?
Understanding the resident experience
“The resident experience encapsulates everything a resident encounters in a senior living community, from the physical surroundings and staff interactions to the social opportunities and personalized care received. It's about much more than just providing a roof over someone’s head; it's about creating an environment that nurtures the body, mind, and spirit,” according to Kim Kindred, CommonSpirit System Vice-President of Patient Experience Care Continuum.
Research shows that the quality of the resident experience has direct implications for senior health outcomes. High-quality experiences can lead to improvements in physical health, mental well-being, social engagement, and overall quality of life. In contrast, poor resident experiences can contribute to feelings of loneliness, anxiety, depression, and even increased rates of physical illness.
Why the resident experience matters
There are several reasons why the resident experience is essential in senior living:
1. Enhances Physical Health: The right living environment can promote physical wellness by offering nutritional food options, opportunities for regular exercise, and access to necessary healthcare services. A senior living community focused on positive resident experience will prioritize these aspects and more, contributing to better overall health among its residents.
2. Supports Mental and Emotional Well-being: Older adults are at a higher risk of experiencing loneliness and depression. The resident experience in senior living should therefore be designed to facilitate social connections, stimulate cognitive function, and offer emotional support – all crucial factors in maintaining mental health.
3. Encourages Social Engagement: Senior living communities can help alleviate the isolation often faced by seniors living alone. With regular social activities, recreational programs, and communal dining experiences, residents can build connections, pursue interests, and enjoy an active social life.
4. Promotes Autonomy and Independence: Though residents in senior living communities often need some level of assistance, it's important to encourage their autonomy and independence where possible. This sense of self-sufficiency is vital for residents’ self-esteem and personal identity.
The future of the resident experience
The future of resident experience in senior living communities will likely be shaped by emerging technologies, innovative care models, and an increasing focus on personalized care. Innovations in telehealth, for example, can help provide more efficient and accessible healthcare services for residents. Similarly, smart home technologies can increase safety while promoting independence.
The trend toward person-centered care, meanwhile, underscores the importance of treating residents as individuals with unique needs, preferences, and histories. By getting to know residents on a deeper level and tailoring care plans to their specific requirements, senior living communities can improve the overall resident experience.
Moreover, a growing focus on holistic wellness - encompassing physical, mental, social, and spiritual health - is driving the development of more comprehensive and varied program offerings. From fitness classes and art therapy sessions to spiritual programs and nature outings, these diverse activities cater to the wide range of residents' interests and capabilities.
CHI Living Communities embarked on a partnership with National Research Corporation (NRC) in early 2022 to develop a survey process designed to gauge resident and family expectations and experiences. In the Summer of 2023, the program is advancing to a new level, refining the surveys, their distribution and most importantly, interpreting the results into actionable plans.
“The resident experience is at the core of success for CHI Living Communities. As we continue to seek ways to enhance the lives of our older adults, it is imperative that we focus on creating positive, meaningful, and personalized experiences,” said Prentice Lipsey, President and CEO of CHI Living Communities. “As society evolves, so too should our approach to senior care, embracing innovative technologies, holistic wellness approaches, and person-centered care to better serve our aging population.”
After all, providing a high-quality resident experience is more than just good practice—it is a commitment to the dignity, respect, and well-being of our elders. For questions or more information, contact us as [email protected].