Three 2021 Resolutions for Reducing Social Isolation—and How Engagement Technology Helps

iN2L tablet keeps seniors engaged, preventing social isolation

January 26, 2021

iN2L Team

After a tumultuous 2020, your community, like others in the industry, may be looking for ways to more effectively leverage engagement technology to reduce social isolation. To support your efforts, here are three resolutions we’re helping communities achieve this year in the hopes that they will also guide your organization in achieving its 2021 objectives. The common theme across these resolutions is a robust engagement technology system that helps enable the connections and individualized experiences residents need to thrive.

What are the components of an end-to-end, integrated engagement system? It should include:

  • An extensive content library curated for older adults
  • Senior-friendly hardware that includes a mix of handheld devices or tablets and easy-to-see, large format touch screen systems to access enriching content experiences
  • Personalization and community-building features, including resident and staff profiles

Read on to delve into the insights and strategies we’re sharing with communities like yours.

Resolution 1: Emphasize Small Group Engagement Based on Residents’ Preferences

Small groups can be a powerhouse in reducing social isolation. When they are established in accordance with the club model, small groups can fuel social connections among residents based on shared interests or passions.

Gathering in small groups, or clubs, enables residents to explore what excites them and what they want to learn. It also gives seniors ample opportunities to share skills and talents with others. When you consider that 50% of residents surveyed said they never felt like they had any friends in their community, imagine the sense of purpose and belonging residents will have when they are active members of several clubs.

How to Get Started

To bring clubs to your community, begin by reviewing the most current information on residents’ preferences, hobbies, previous career, etc. Once you’ve determined where residents’ interests and life experiences intersect, develop small group activities or clubs around those commonalities. Staff can get into the fun as well by sharing a hobby or learning a new one. Let club members determine and direct club activities while you and staff focus on removing barriers and getting to know each resident.

How Engagement Technology Helps

Identifying and then matching residents’ interests can be a time-consuming and labor-intensive process, and this is where technology can help. With a comprehensive engagement technology solution, you can easily capture and update resident information. This information can be used to discover overlapping interests and other insights that can help you organize and sustain your community’s clubs.

Resolution 2: Give Every Senior Their Own Personal Device

During the pandemic, many seniors did not have regular contact with friends or family because they did not have their own smartphone or tablet; and if they did, it was difficult for them to manage. Seniors who did not use technology to connect to loved ones were more likely to feel lonely or bored and suffer from declining health.

By giving each senior their own easy-to-use device, communities can ward off feelings of loneliness even after the need for precautionary isolation passes. As a result, each resident can direct their connection and engagement experiences, thereby enriching their days with activities of their choosing.

How to Get Started

When selecting a tablet for your community, evaluate its ease of use, security and personalization features, and connectivity tools. Look for a device that is designed for seniors at all levels of physical and cognitive ability and that does not require previous technology experience. It should also enable seniors to easily connect with family and friends, keep medical appointments via telehealth capabilities, and entertain themselves with immersive content applications.

How Engagement Technology Helps

Senior-friendly tablets that integrate with your community’s engagement technology system unify the community under one platform, resulting in economies of scale in engagement, socialization, training, and support.

Resolution 3: Make Resident Engagement Everyone’s Responsibility

The pandemic showed how essential frontline staff can be in mitigating feelings of loneliness and isolation among people in residential care settings. However, staff often had little time to offer moments of companionship. When communities take an enterprise approach and make resident engagement part of everyone’s responsibility, seniors are more likely to get the person-centered care they need to thrive. Additionally, all staff can gain a sense of pride and purpose by playing an important role in residents’ wellness.

How to Get Started

Create an environment where all staff—from housekeeping and care assistants to servers and groundskeepers—are approachable and capable of supporting residents’ socialization and engagement. First, train staff on identifying signs of social isolation or depression and using simple techniques to reduce loneliness and boredom. Second, build flexibility into schedules so staff have time to get to know residents and make them feel at home. Third, be sure to regularly assess the status of each resident’s socialization and engagement. Simple resident satisfaction surveys can help measure results.

How Engagement Technology Helps

Technology empowers communities to make engagement part of a care plan that every staff member supports. When all frontline workers can tap into the engagement technology platform, you can unify your community around resident engagement. In that way, each staff member will have the information and content they need to interact with a resident who seems bored or agitated. A system that lets you organize engagement ideas and content under situation categories—such as weekends, volunteering, and sundowning—gives users access to the right content experience whenever they need it.

Spark Social Connections and Purposeful Engagement in 2021

Now more than ever, residents need immersive socialization and enrichment that fuels their purpose, and engagement technology is a strategic enabler. If your community is committed to this goal, keeping these three resolutions is the way to go. In no time, your community will transform into a place where the power of human connections and purposeful engagement is at work for every senior. For more insights on what you can do to prevent social isolation in your community, read our report, Bridging the Loneliness Gap: Exploring Perceptions of Socialization, Engagement, and Satisfaction Among Key Senior Living Stakeholders.

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Get the Insights You Need to Reduce Social Isolation and Improve the Resident Experience

In this competitive landscape, it’s clear that facilitating meaningful social opportunities for residents drives satisfaction. Read our report to find ways your community can create the social connections that attract new residents and maintain occupancy.