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Driving the Resident Journey Starts with Understanding Residents as Individuals

Engagement March 30, 2021

Every community has a Bonnie. 

Bonnie is in an unfortunate and unexpected situation: Her husband of 40 years experienced a life-threatening episode and came to her community for clinical support. She reached out to someone on the team for support. What happened next dictated the experience Bonnie had in her community, and how long she stayed. 

Our Bonnie connected with a director who was able to “assess” Bonnie’s emotional wellbeing even though she wasn’t trained in that area. This director was empathetic, asked a lot of questions, listened intently and took copious notes using pen and paper. She knew she needed to be proactive in her approach, and she helped this resident find purpose, autonomy, resilience and connectedness within her community. 

Fast forward a few years to this director’s last day at the community. As this director was saying goodbye to her residents, Bonnie stood in front of a room of fellow well-wishers and declared that this director saved her life. She shared how she had experienced some dark days and that if not for this director’s presence and support in the community when she needed it most, she would not be sitting there with everyone today.

This experience helped the director realize the impact she had on Bonnie’s life. It also helped her see that she could have done so much more for Bonnie if she had known more about her day-to-day challenges. She recognized that the pen and paper check-in was just not enough; that to help Bonnie create the best experience, she needed a systematic approach of gathering and leveraging information about a resident, that also included them in the process. 

In short, she needed a foundation to drive Bonnie’s journey. 

Knowing your Customer and their Personal Journey

Every great company has a keen understanding and insatiable desire to know the customer, followed by processes that allow them to continue learning about the individual. They use this knowledge to anticipate and meet the needs of customers, for as long as they are customers. This is known as the customer journey.

Within senior living, the resident journey typically begins when one becomes a “prospect” and ends when that same person leaves your care. The overall journey—or experience—should be resident specific, and is impacted by factors such as:

  • The environment (the community look and feel both indoors and outdoors)
  • The resident’s relationship with staff
  • The care and services the resident receives
  • Engagement within the community and how one spends time  
  • The resident’s feeling of respect and safety
  • Family interaction and opportunity to impact care
  • And, of course, dining

You can control some of the factors that impact the experience, others you cannot. For example, you control activities and dining; you cannot control life events. These all impact the resident journey. 

The good news is that the goal is not to control the resident journey, but to help personalize and drive it for each resident. Many communities do this by measurement. This is when satisfaction surveys and NPS scores start to become a driver of the experience itself. 

What if there is another way to drive the resident journey? One that is not controlled by annual research, but by frequent touchpoints with each resident. 

Basic Needs of Humanity

LE3 Solutions believes there are four pillars that provide a foundation of insights for staff and family about a resident’s wellbeing and their experiences within the community. This approach leverages information the individual provides about themselves and their life experiences—rather than generalizations of a demographic cohort—to drive an individual and personalized journey.

Shared appropriately with the right staff members, they are better equipped to support the resident in a more personalized, “person-centered” approach. The end goal for the community is to provide every resident with a great quality of life. Coincidentally, research shows that when people thrive in the areas of purpose, autonomy, resilience and connectedness—or PARC—quality of life improves. 

PARC includes four pillars that help a community assess and respond to a resident’s wellbeing:

Purpose. A reason for being. A resident with purpose has a reason to get up; a passion that excites them and a goal to complete each day.

Autonomy. Self-governance. A resident with autonomy believes he or she can make choices and is in control of his or her life.

Resilience. Ability to cope with life’s unexpected curveballs. When a resident is resilient, they have learned from past experiences, are stronger and are more equipped to deal with the unexpected. 

Connectedness. Meaningful relationships with others. When a resident feels connected, he or she believes they matter to other people and feels a sense of responsibility from that.

Why PARC? 

Bob Kramer, President of Nexus Insights and Co-founder of NIC, frequently says that “no resident wants longevity without vitality.” When a community focuses on PARC, residents experience a natural flow of curated opportunities that are personalized for them at that moment in time

It is a methodology for understanding, defining and driving a resident’s experience based on their past, present and future self. The ongoing collection of information is the foundation of an ever-evolving and fluid resident-centered approach. 

PARC Requires Consistent Data Collection and Use 

To make PARC more than a measurement, it requires data. Every community collects and leverages data differently. Data collection is heavily dependent upon the staff—from recruiters to caregivers. Often knowledge about a resident lives with a staff member—like our Connie example. Sometimes it lives in a file cabinet, viewed when a director has time, or when an event or mini crisis occurs. One-off conversations and manually processed data leads to inefficiencies and inconsistencies in the resident journey. 

Information about residents should be captured in a consistent, systematic way and shared with staff members, free of human judgment. Enter technology. 

Technology does something your staff—no matter how good and how committed to your residents—can’t do. It can capture, analyze and identify trends and push insights to staff to act upon at a particular time, instead of relying on staff to memorize and retain each resident’s personal story.   Plus, technology gives your residents something your staff cannot: The ability for the resident to be actively involved in directing and writing their own journey, in their own time and in the comfort of their own space. 

Personalization is Key to Success

Today’s engagement “failures” are created out of the limitations of individual knowledge. For the most part, the information captured on each resident is a “moment in time.” It does not provide a consistent 360 view of the resident’s experience every day. 

The only way to truly drive a personal and individual resident experience is to capture a resident’s own story on their own accord, at their own pace, offering opportunities to revisit when the story has new chapters or modifications.  

This requires a foundation of learning and sharing. A resource must deliver a consistent and holistic view of the resident’s needs and wellbeing and then provide insights to a staff to deliver a personalized experience for each resident.  

Research shows that senior living communities that take a deliberate and measured approach to understand and drive the resident experience at a deep individual level are more efficient, have higher resident and family engagement and satisfaction, and longer length of stays.   

Are you one of those communities? Stay tuned for the next blog on this topic to discover how technology can drive the resident journey.