Apr 16, 2024

How to Support Assisted Living Facility Resident Wellbeing Amid Staffing Pressures

61% of assisted living communities are concerned workforce challenges might force them to close, according to a survey from the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living. As the demand for quality care in assisted living facilities continues to grow, it is vital to focus on promoting resident well-being. Support and supplement your staff with the strategies below to prioritize the health and happiness of your residents.

The Importance of Physical Wellness

Since health problems tend to increase with age, physical wellness is crucial for helping seniors stay healthy for longer. According to the CDC, regular physical activity is one of the most important things older adults can do for their health. This helps to prevent or delay health problems and keeps muscles strong, allowing seniors to continue their daily activities without reliance on others. Plus, exercises that improve balance may prevent falling and, therefore, the injuries associated with falls.

Assisted living facilities that promote physical activity help their residents stay healthier and happier. You’ll also help residents stay more independent, decreasing the burden on your staff. Plus, you’ll reduce the risk of falls and resident injuries, which may also reduce your facility’s liability.

The Importance of Mental Wellness

Mental wellness is also critical for assisted living facility residents. Research from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine shows that one in four community-dwelling seniors is considered socially isolated and many U.S. adults report feeling lonely.

According to the CDC, loneliness and social isolation may have a significant impact on a person’s emotional and physical health. Loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide. Social isolation is associated with a 50% higher risk of dementia and an increased risk of premature death. In fact, the impact on the risk of death is so extreme that it is comparable to the risks of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.

Once again, there are massive implications for assisted living facilities. By supporting mental wellness, senior living facilities help their residents feel happy in their golden years, which is reason enough to promote mental wellbeing. Furthermore, since mental wellness is tied to physical wellness, assisted living facilities that promote mental wellness will reduce the risk for serious physical illnesses that would necessitate higher levels of care.

Strategies to Support Resident Wellbeing

Assisted living facilities have ample motivation to keep their residents as healthy as possible. The question is how to do so, especially during staffing challenges. Although it may be difficult and may require some creativity, it is possible:

  • Make mental and physical wellbeing a priority. As residential care facilities deal with staffing shortages, they may be tempted to cut corners and reduce programs. However, reducing support for mental and physical wellbeing may backfire. Not only may it harm residents, but it may also result in the need for increased levels of care, exacerbating the staffing shortages that already exist.
  • Draw on community support. Your facility’s community is a fantastic resource. For example, you could invite youth dance or choir groups to perform for your residents or ask local animal organizations to bring animals to your facility. Activities like these will help your residents stay socially active and engaged, which is good for their physical and mental health.
  • Bring in third-party providers to offer classes and activities. If you don’t have enough staff for activities, contract exercise instructors and other independent service providers. This is a great way to provide a variety of activities, led by experts. (Always make sure you vet contractors coming into your facility and consider insurance requirements.)
  • Consider digital options. Many classes are available online, either for free or for an affordable subscription. Residential care facilities should take advantage of these resources. For example, if you can’t afford to bring a laughing yoga instructor to your facility on a regular basis, you may be able to use a digital program for your residents. (Always review programs for quality and consider how to ensure residents are safe during activities.)

Supporting assisted living facility resident wellbeing is a smart way to create a healthy environment for your residents while reducing your liability. However, you still need assisted living facility insurance. Tangram provides insurance for residential care facilities through the Personal Care & Assisted Living Insurance Center (PCALIC). Learn more.