Implementing a wholistic wellness strategy that encompasses multiple dimensions of wellness across all levels of care is a goal that’s important to many senior living communities. Recently, we were impressed by an approach that the community of Holland Home has taken and so we sat down with their wellness team to learn more. Through the conversation with Marenta Klinger, Director of Resident Life, and Alisha Van Epps, Fitness Manager and Personal Trainer, we learned how they are breaking down silos between departments to create a cohesive wellness culture and the impact it’s having across their entire community.
Q: Implementing a coordinated, wholistic wellness program throughout a community can be difficult. Tell me about the structure you created to achieve such a complicated goal.
A: When we set out to design a comprehensive wellness model within our organization about 3 ½ years ago, we knew it would need to be structured across all departments and involve everyone in our community, both staff and residents. We presented the idea to resident focus groups, who offered insight about their needs and desires and actually voted on the name for the wellness model – Vibrant Living.™
Vibrant Living™ was created to provide an effective strategy for improving the quality of life for our residents by focusing on 5 dimensions of wellness: Spiritual Fulfillment, Intellectual Discovery, Physical Wellness, Social Engagement, and Emotional Wellbeing. Each of these was selected because of feedback we received from residents on the focus group.
After receiving valuable resident input and feedback, our wellness team worked to form a Vibrant Living™ Committee that includes all life-enrichment, fitness, therapy, dining services, facility services, and executive team members. Each member of this committee was carefully selected to represent their unit, department or level of care bringing a unique and critical perspective to the table.
Q: How often does the Vibrant Living Committee meet and how are goals and strategies designed and organized?
A: The Vibrant Living Committee meets quarterly. But we also have a sub-committee for each component of wellness. The ultimate goal for all of us is to implement a culture of wellness throughout the entire organization. To accomplish this, each sub-committee has their own goals that they are working towards implementing throughout all levels of care.
Of course, the end goal is to create the highest quality of life for the residents we serve by continuing to develop our wellness culture throughout the organization. So, during the quarterly meetings, each sub-committee gives a report about and asks for feedback on what they are working on and how they are collaborating with other sub-committees and across departments.
All of us are focused on Holland Home’s mission statement and whether the goals and actions we decide on are in line with it.
Q: Tell me more about how the sub-committees chose their goals and why collaboration is an important part of moving those objectives forward.
A: Once a year the Vibrant Living Committee meeting is dedicated to a giant brainstorming session. Each sub-committee creates a comprehensive list of goals based on the ideas generated during that brainstorming meeting. From there, they select the goals that are most in-line with the overall direction of the community, current trends and research, and the needs and desires of the residents across all levels of care.
For example, the physical wellness committee was interested in current research about how technology can drive engagement. This led them to explore options for equipping our fitness center with technology-driven machines. They identified HUR equipment as the best option for several reasons, but one of the most important was that having the machines would mean meeting goals across multiple components of wellness. The machines were a way for multiple committees to work together to further the culture of whole-person wellness and meet several of our wellness goals at the same time.
Q: Once the goal of purchasing HUR machines was established, how did the committees work together to make it happen?
A: We started by proposing a plan to obtain one CyberCycle. Knowing the CyberCycle was outside the bounds of our budget, we approached our development team and asked for their collaboration. From there, the team reached out to residents. It was through this collaboration we were able to work together to purchase the CyberCycle through resident donations.
Later we were blessed to have an anonymous donor come forward to underwrite costs to construct an entirely new fitness center equipped with HUR machines. We completed this project through this same collaborative process between staff from several departments and turned what we thought would only ever be a dream into a reality.
Q: How has Vibrant Living™ impacted life at your community?
A: The biggest outcome is that we’ve achieved a much higher quality of life for the residents. This is what united us in the first place, and we see it playing out every day. There is so much more variety in the programming we offer now, and the increased level of collaboration has improved the quality of and streamlined services across the continuum of care.
For example, increased collaboration with volunteer services has resulted in the highest number of staff volunteers we’ve ever utilized for the highest number of large blended levels of care resident events we’ve ever attempted. And, our fitness team has seen an increase in the number of residents who are willing to learn and try new classes and learn about the new technology-enabled HUR equipment and how to utilize the data to improve their overall physical wellness. This is particularly exciting because one of the primary focuses for Vibrant Living™ is lifelong learning. It’s great to see that having an impact.
It’s also been incredible to see how Holland Home has come behind Vibrant Living™ to support it. The increase in collaboration has resulted in growth, allowing us to create new positions within the department that allow us to improve quality of life and quality of care. It’s a cyclical relationship that benefits the entire organization.
Keeping an individual or group engaged is ongoing, adaptive and cultural.
Creating a wellness engagement strategy is the key to a successful population health management program. Positive health outcomes drive business performance, growth and sustainability.