Improving Independence with Effective Communication

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Improving independence starts with how informed and aware your residents are with what is going on around them. Stated simply: informed residents are more independent and self-confident.

Improvements in independence correlate directly with your residents’ feelings of belonging, of being in control of their lives, and the increased likelihood they will look forward to and participate in your various activities on a regular basis.

What can you do to boost their self-confidence? I am glad you asked…

Communicate, communicate, communicate! Put your message out there – in as many places as possible – in ways your residents will notice. Let them take control of what they want to know. Make everything easy to find and even easier to read. 

Be creative! Dry, clinical presentations will most likely not get read. Even if they do, your residents will be unaware of the benefits of joining in, and your efforts to engage them will be unsuccessful. Instead, dare to use flair: grab their attention with visually appealing announcements and posters. Use bright, cheerful colours and a text size that’s easy to read. Pique their interest further with pictures or graphics that reinforce the intent of the activity and how rewarding it will be to attend. (Oh, and don’t forget to display photos of all the fun they had when each activity or event is done. The residents who attended will enjoy reminiscing; hopefully, the ones who didn’t will feel they missed out and be encouraged to get involved next time!)

Keep it simple! Tell them what they need to know to want to be there, but stay away from too much information or too cluttered a presentation. If it’s complicated you risk confusing them, and if they are confused they’ll lose interest, stop reading, probably forget, and very likely not attend. Definitely not a confidence-booster!

Empower them! Take every opportunity to remind them of what’s going on – daily, weekly, monthly – with calendars in their suites, captivating elevator notices, and strategically-placed activity boards (e.g. reception, home areas, popular gathering spots, outside the event venues). The more often the message is noticed, the more often it will be read, and the more often it’s read, the easier it will be to remember. Not only that, your residents will be reassured that the information is accurate and of value to them (otherwise, why would it be in so many places?) They will look forward to attending, knowing that they can get there on their own regardless of where they are in the residence.

Just as you want to be in control of your day-to-day living, so too do your residents. When they have the confidence that they can find what they want to know and be able to act on it, you’ll know you have succeeded in improving independence – and isn’t that a rewarding feeling for everyone?