Operations Best Practices

The Cost of Social Isolation to Senior Living Operators

July 24, 2023

Senior loneliness is a well-documented issue that comes with a heavy cost to residents and operators in senior living. In a previous blog, we discussed why loneliness can be as dangerous as smoking 15 cigarettes a day for older adults. In this article, we go over the financial cost of social isolation for senior living operators and how its impact on business health. Here are four ways that social isolation is costly for operators — and how a resident experience platform can help.    

  1. Increased Healthcare Spending

Research has demonstrated that loneliness and isolation can negatively impact our physical health. The latest Surgeon General’s Advisory even named loneliness and isolation as a significant public health challenge in America. The report estimated that social isolation among older adults alone accounts for an estimated $6.7 billion in excess Medicare spending annually. This is largely due to increased hospital and nursing facility spending. The negative health outcomes of isolation and loneliness can prove costly for senior living operators.

  1. Higher Resident Turnover

When residents are feeling lonely or isolated, they are unlikely to be happy with their home. If your senior living community is not fulfilling residents’ social needs, they may choose to move elsewhere. Socialization is often a priority for seniors — of people aged 55+ who are planning to move to a retirement community, 71% would do so for more social contact and activities. In addition, the negative health outcomes described above may force lonely residents to move to a community that offers a higher level of care. High resident turnover and shorter stays mean less revenue for your community.

  1. Loss of Family Confidence

Family members who have reason to believe that their loved one is suffering from loneliness or isolation may lose confidence in your community. They may start searching for other senior living communities that they think will provide their loved one with better care. Loss of family confidence can have a negative impact on your community’s brand image and result in decreased revenue from resident turnover. 

  1. Risk of Non-Compliance

Having lonely or isolated residents is often a symptom of a larger problem. Perhaps the senior living community is understaffed, or they do not offer activities that meet the needs and interests of every resident. Communities that do not identify and address the root cause of loneliness and isolation risk being found out of compliance on their next state visit. Depending on the nature of the non-compliance, communities can face financial penalties. 

Addressing the Cost of Social Isolation with the Help of a Resident Experience Platform

Social isolation can have a hefty cost for senior living operators. A resident experience platform such as Welbi can help life enrichment teams reduce senior loneliness and isolation in their communities. Here are four ways that a resident experience platform can ensure that your residents stay socially engaged, so they can live happily and healthily. 

1. Facilitate connections during onboarding

Residents who have recently moved into a senior living community are often at risk for loneliness and isolation. They may not know anyone in the community yet, and meeting many new people at once can feel overwhelming. A resident experience platform can help create connections by documenting information about a resident’s interests, hobbies, and life stories. Teams can use this data to introduce new residents to staff members or other residents who they share something in common with to help provide an easy transition. 

2. Engage residents in meaningful activities

Residents are more likely to come out of their rooms to socialize when your life enrichment program offers diverse activities that engage every resident. A resident experience platform can help plan programs that meet the needs and interests of your community. Welbi even provides program recommendations based on your resident data. Recommendations include a list of residents who are likely to attend the activity, so you know exactly who to invite. Life enrichment professionals play a key role in enabling residents to socialize, whether in a group or one-on-one setting.

3. Manage compliance and increase family confidence

A resident experience platform allows teams to accurately document information about each resident’s engagement level. This includes the programs they attend, how often they attend, and how actively they participate, in a group as well as one-on-one or in self-directed activities. Having this information on hand will help make your next state visit go smoothly and increase family confidence. For example, if you can show families that their loved one was invited to a program that matched their interests but declined to attend, they have the peace of mind that their loved one is being engaged with. 

4. Show alerts when a resident is at risk for isolation

To ensure that no resident is socially isolated, Welbi alerts staff when residents are in need of engagement. The Overview section of the platform provides teams with a list of residents who have gone the longest without any interactions captured in Welbi. Teams can review this list daily so they can prioritize engaging specific residents to prevent loneliness and isolation.

Interested in seeing how this can work for your community? Check out our webinar, Why Welbi is Your Future Resident Engagement Platform, to see the benefits in action.

Katie Stewart

Katie is a member of Welbi’s Customer Experience team! She has a background in communications and recreation and is passionate about older adults, exercise, coffee and people.

Holly Mathias

Holly is a member of Welbi’s Marketing team! She has a background in communications and marketing, and is a compassionate individual who loves team work, story telling, and wellness.

Wendy Riopelle

Wendy is a student in the Honours BA in English program at the University of Ottawa, where she has won numerous awards for her writing.

Want to get articles like this one fresh in your inbox when they’re published? Sign up for our newsletter and join the Welbi Family today.

Want to learn more about how Welbi can assist with your community’s QAPI program? Book a live demonstration of Welbi today!

Never miss a post!
Sign up for our newsletter
Never miss a post!

Join our mailing list to get our latest newsletters straight in your inbox.