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OPTIMA Award: Six dimensions of engagement

September 24, 2014
by Pamela Tabar, Editor-in-Chief
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[Editor's Note: This article is part of the coverage of the 2014 Long-Term Living OPTIMA Award winner. Read part 1 here.]

Benchmark Senior Living’s residents get their brains, memories and current thoughts exercised daily exercise using the “six dimensions” of engagement. Every Benchmark program, now gathered under the mantra of “Live Now, Live Engaged,” uses six dimensions to encourage interaction with residents using the brain’s different ways of processing information—intellectual, physical, emotional, spiritual, social and community purposeful. 

Benchmark’s approach acknowledges research that shows that daily routines and structured “exercise” of the various parts of the brain’s processes can create a more supportive environment for those with cognitive decline, while keeping the brain thinking and working longer—and while reducing outbreaks of challenging behaviors.

Each of the six dimensions is involved in Benchmark’s daily programming and activities. Benchmark uses daily encounters with “engagement boxes” filled with physical materials that can prompt conversations, as well as a vast reading series meant to prompt residents’ minds to learn something new every day. Here’s the real key: All residents are involved in the engagement sessions each day, regardless of their cognitive abilities.

“Residents, despite their cognitive challenges, can explore new opportunities, sustain and develop new skills and abilities, and continue having new life experiences,” says Krystee Ryiz, Benchmark’s corporate director of programs and customer engagement. “We want to engage our families, too, which is why we made the engagement boxes and our signature programs to engage with the local community.”