Researchers conducted an in-depth case study to investigate what quality of life means to residents of a Life Plan Community.
With the help of a resident team, the researchers interviewed or surveyed 141 independent living, assisted living, or skilled nursing residents in the same Life Plan Community regarding resident experiences at the community.
Based on their responses, the researchers identified what quality of life meant to the residents, as well as strategies for promoting quality of life within the community. One important aspect of quality of life centered on a sense of community, comradery, and inclusiveness. Having ample opportunity for active engagement was also important for residents—they wanted to learn and grow and have new experiences. Not surprisingly, another theme focused on resident autonomy and mutual respect. Some also noted that privacy is a concern and cautioned that overemphasizing engagement may have a negative impact for residents who prefer less engagement.
One of the most common strategies to enhance quality of life was to involve residents in the development of the culture of their community. This included providing opportunities for resident leadership through resident associations, representation on the board, decision-making processes, and regular campus-wide meetings and celebrations for residents and staff. Another important strategy was to focus on building and maintaining a sense of community. Examples of this included environments that encourage resident interactions (central mailboxes, cafes, and activity rooms), as well as creating neighborhoods within the community that have dedicated spaces for socializing, and helping new residents find their place in the community.
While this study focused on a single community, residents of other Life Plan Communities likely have similar interpretations of quality of life. Autonomy and independence were important, but residents mainly focused on the social aspect of the community and having opportunities for engagement, both for personal growth and being involved in community decisions. These tend to be areas that Life Plan Communities already focus on, but confirmation that this is what residents find important may be helpful for communities.