Moving to a new place where you don’t know a soul is intimidating, regardless of how old you are.
In fact, it’s one of the toughest transitions a person faces in life. For seniors, the move to a long-term care facility often represents a loss of independence, magnifying the emotions involved. Depending on the individual, it usually takes two to four weeks before a resident starts to settle in and feel comfortable in their new home.
This transition is similar to switching to a new high school. Seniors feel the same anxiety over finding their way around an unfamiliar environment, trying to fit into established social groups and figuring out the routine.
To address these challenges, many senior living communities have come up with creative programs to ease this transition for new residents.
Assign an “ambassador” to each new resident, an instant friend to your new arrival. They will show your resident around, accompany them to dinner and activities, and introduce them to others. Your staff should make an effort to match residents and ambassadors with similar interests or personalities to ensure a lasting connection.
Your Welcome Committee, which is made up of residents, assigns a committee member for the first full day of the residents stay. The resident will offer to escort the new resident to breakfast, lunch or dinner to introduce them to other residents, answer any questions they might have and just have a generally good time. Another resident is assigned to help the resident get acclimated over the next two weeks with routine events, special events and activities and just general procedures.
Good ambassadors will also ask lots of questions about a new resident’s background and interests and try to introduce him or her to others with similar interests.