Finding and Engaging the Non-Engagers

Every home has residents we call “reluctant” engagers – people who make the decision they do not want to be involved in programming. They obviously present a special challenge to the recreation staff, because we want everyone to be involved!

As recreationists, we must accept two import facts:

  1. Residents have the right to choose, and deciding not to participate is a choice, and must be respected
  2. Recreationists have no choice about whether they will encourage residents to participate or not. It is our responsibility to encourage resident engagement, without coercion, and with respect.

Finding your non-engagers is the easy part – they have limited or no attendance at your programs. With a formal tracking process in place, you will always be aware of anyone who is having limited or no engagement. Progressive homes typically set resident attendance benchmarks, and challenge themselves to monitor and respond to residents who are withdrawing or have limited participation. (If you are an ActivityPro client and you’re not using the “Residents At Risk” report, give us a call and we can help you set it up on your dashboard.)

However, always remember that your tracking of resident engagement should also include attention to what the resident is doing on their own. Watching television, reading and visiting with others are examples of self-directed or independent engagement. So while these engagements are not part of your scheduled programming efforts, they do represent legitimate resident engagement in terms of how they are using their leisure time. So sometimes your seemingly non-engagers may be very engaged – in their own way – and this must be respected and acknowledged in your documentation.

Another obvious avenue is to ensure that you really know who the person is. They are not a resident, they are a person – someone with specific needs and interests, with specific passions and avoidances, and with specific personal relationships that are important to them. The more you can discover about who the person is behind the “resident” label, the more likely you are to find a way to connect with that person. Resident centered programming is not about plugging residents into your programs, it is about connecting with the person through what is important and of interest to them. Taking this approach in one’s thinking can help you connect with more non-engagers.

Finally, when all else fails, look for ways to engage with non-engagers through “non-declared” programming. Stopping by for a friendly 10 minute visit, just because you happened to be in the neighborhood, may be seen as a nice gesture by the resident, even though it is seen and documented as a one-on-one program from your perspective. Over time, such visits often lead to breakthroughs, as the person becomes more comfortable with you and the home, and decides to join in on small group gathering down the hall.

Encouraging resident-to-resident connections, whether through a formal buddy system, or just by introducing nearby residents to each other, may lead to more self-directed engagement for the person who was previously alone and not reaching out.

Let ActivityPro help you locate your non-engagers quickly, call us today to get started at 1-888-898-0098.

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