Curious how many steps you need to take to burn off that Halloween candy?
Check out this Halloween Treat Calorie Counter!
Shawna Kendrick, on Thu, Oct 31, 2013
Curious how many steps you need to take to burn off that Halloween candy?
Check out this Halloween Treat Calorie Counter!
Emily Davenport, on Tue, Jul 2, 2013
Part 2: Eight Strategies to Bring About Successful Collaboration
In Part 1, I talked about the importance of setting aside power grabs and tapping into the skill sets of a variety of community personnel to establish a well-rounded wellness program for residents. Read on to discover a variety of ways your community leaders can work together to deliver best-in-class wellness programming to your residents.
1: A formal bridge program should be established between your community therapy and fitness departments to help residents transition from therapy to fitness and vice versa. Residents should feel supported in the collaboration that occurs between these two departments as their needs change.
2: Fall prevention and screening services can be offered through either department, but why not take a unified approach? Coordinate fall-prevention programs, lectures, health fairs, etc., and allow your therapy and fitness personnel to work side by side in addressing the variety of resident needs.
3: As special trips or events are planned for residents, activities personnel can sit down with the fitness and therapy teams to discuss the demands that will be placed on the residents for said activity. Allow your fitness and therapy personnel to promote the upcoming event and develop educational opportunities or training programs to help residents prepare. For example, if residents are going on a trip to a historical destination where they will be walking on cobblestone or brick sidewalks, programs could be offered to help them prepare for extended walking on the terrain, or a discussion on the importance of proper footwear, cane use, and more could be provided.
4: As fitness classes or programs are coordinated and room reservations need to be made, help show your residents that physical well-being is a priority by making rooms and promotional space on calendars and newsletters available to market these programs. After all, if you are going to regularly advertise Tuesday Afternoon Bridge Group on the calendar, why wouldn’t you equally advertise the Tuesday Morning Gentle Yoga Class?
Dining Services Department:
5: Coordinate healthy cooking demonstrations for residents to help them learn how to order healthy selections in the dining room and then sample those healthy options at the demo.
6: You likely provide refreshments to residents at a variety of events. Consider serving cookies and punch as occasional treats and making healthy and engaging options for residents to enjoy. Allow them to create healthy smoothies or yogurt parfaits or create a DIY trail-mix bar with healthy options as you offer an afternoon seminar. Have members of your dining services team present so residents can better connect the healthy options flowing from that department with the educational lecture they are about to hear.
Resident Health Services Department:
7: Fitness and health services staff could coordinate their weekly free blood pressure screenings to occur right outside the doors of where a well-attended group exercise class takes place. This may help capture more participants in this service and it may bring more awareness to the group exercise class by other residents simply looking to take advantage of the free screening.
8: If you have underutilized services available through your health services department such as home health care, medication assistance, and so on, speak with your activities personnel about doing a monthly highlight of the services in the newsletter or in a presentation. It’s often that residents don’t understand or don’t realize that a service is available to them more so than not being interested. Find opportunities to spread the message.
You’ll notice that fitness isn’t included as its own separate header because it is already represented by collaborating with the other departments in the list. This remains NIFS’s philosophy on resident wellness programming. It’s how we support wellness for our clients, and we’ve found it to be an effective model that serves well the needs of current residents as well as contributes positively to community occupancy and viability in the marketplace.
Want to learn more about how to build those key elements in your community? Join us for our Build Vitality webinar series.
Emily Davenport, on Mon, Jun 24, 2013
Part 1: Who Should Be Contributing to Resident Wellness?
There are many interpretations of what a community “wellness program” should be, and to be fair, many interpretations are quite valid. We’re not saying one size fits all; quite the contrary. What we are saying is that there are multiple VALID interpretations of resident wellness and making your community aware of the potential variety (pulling away from “this is what we’ve always done”) will be beneficial for all. Tap into the unique skill sets of your community personnel to cultivate a harmonious and healthy lifestyle for your residents.
For example, resident health services and therapy departments may perceive clinical programs such as health metrics screenings or gait analysis as wellness programming. Your activities personnel may perceive socialization and educational seminars as a wellness program, whereas your community fitness personnel perceive prevention programming such as balance training and healthy eating as wellness. The answer to which of these options is truly a wellness program is “all of the above”—if they are executed effectively with a collaborative approach to promote resident well-being.
Oftentimes there are power grabs at play among community personnel on who is offering wellness or who should be involved in certain types of programming. We’ve written about silos and power grabs before. A well-rounded wellness program cannot truly exist until these power grabs are set aside and everyone learns to contribute to the greater good of resident care and well-being as a team. After all, how long will a resident truly be successful upon discharge from therapy services if they don’t have the support of fitness programming to continue their progress? Or what good is an educational lecture on the importance of managing your blood pressure as coordinated by your activities personnel if health screenings and clinical support are not available?
The needs and expectations of today’s residents are too dynamic and unique to have a “wellness program” facilitated through the vision of one department or one individual. To best serve the needs of residents, all departments should be contributing their own skill sets under a central mission for improving resident well-being.
In doing so, your community will be able touch on many different dimensions of wellness from one department to the next without placing the entire programming burden on one or two individuals. In turn, the scope of possibilities in programming is not as limited and a current of wellness-based lifestyle programs and options will flow from one department to the next. If you were to remove one of these departments, it would likely create a gap in your program. This collaboration can demonstrate to existing and prospective residents that individual agendas and power grabs are not the priority at your community, but improved resident well-being through collaboration is!
You won’t want to miss part 2 of this blog, in which we look into eight specific examples of where your key community players can contribute to well-rounded wellness programming.
Bethany Garrity, on Mon, Jun 3, 2013
If you have residents who want to use the fitness center at your community but aren’t sure how to get started safely, you may have given some thought to adding a fitness center manager who can provide that individual attention for your residents. Perhaps you’re unsure about where to start looking for your fitness center manager and what types of things they should be doing while they’re on the job. Read on to learn about four key job responsibilities we think your fitness center manager should be executing often and well.
The whole idea of providing consistent staffing in the fitness center is to get more residents to use the amenity along with other services to live well, right? Consider these types of opportunities to communicate value to your residents:
Your fitness manager can take several steps to advocate for resident safety while also decreasing your liability. Implementing a membership process for your fitness center is one of those steps. Consider the following elements.
This seems like a no-brainer, but from our experience working in a variety of retirement community settings, collaboration is anything but seamless. I’ve talked about this in other blogs, so I’ll spare you my soapbox here. Suffice it to say that your overall community wellness programming will be more rich and balanced when you include the expertise of your fitness manager for a creative twist on more traditional offerings.
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to evaluate what you’re doing in resident wellness. In our two-part blog on gathering wellness data you can actually use, I outline some specifics on how to set up your initiatives for simple but effective evaluation as well as how to evaluate the program when it’s complete. Read those blogs for more information on program evaluation.
The other element of data gathering and evaluation that we often see missing from fitness programs is program attendance. All too often, communities are not capturing resident attendance in group exercise classes or in the fitness center. Your onsite manager should be keeping track of who has joined the fitness program and how often they are using the amenities. This data allows the manager to report to the community personnel about utilization trends. It also informs decisions about what group classes and other services to keep on the schedule and which should be evolved into new opportunities.
If this leaves you with more questions than answers about what your fitness center staff should be doing, contact me to learn what’s on our job descriptions and how we work with our senior living clients.
Emily Davenport, on Tue, May 21, 2013
NIFS was thrilled to begin fitness management services at two new retirement community client sites in April. Furthermore, we were honored to be able to tailor our staffing services for the unique needs of each location. Community fitness and wellness programs can’t be addressed with a cookie-cutter approach. Read on to learn how NIFS is supporting the unique needs of each location and their residents.
Peabody: 20-Hour-per-Week Fitness Manager
Peabody is a CCRC in North Manchester, Indiana. Although Peabody did not have a fitness center for its residents until the grand opening of the brand new Billie Jean Strauss Wellness Center in April, NIFS has been supporting this community since early 2012 through consulting and equipment recommendations. NIFS provided recommendations for the fitness center and aerobics studio, including everything from treadmills to strength equipment to balance-training tools and space layouts. When the build was complete, NIFS was able to support the equipment installation and helped the community prepare for the grand opening celebration.
Because Peabody residents are not accustomed to exercising in an onsite fitness center or having group fitness class options in an aerobics studio, the community began staffing services at 20 hours per week with a NIFS Fitness Manager. As NIFS’s best-in-class fitness programming sparks resident engagement and enthusiasm, they anticipate growing the manager position to full-time to add more opportunities and services for residents. So far the launch of the program has been a great success and residents have been very eager to learn about the new equipment and program. NIFS is excited to expand the possibilities for Peabody residents and grow with the community.
Sandhill Cove: 40 Hour-per-Week Wellness Director
Sandhill Cove is a CCRC in Palm City, Florida. The community has a fitness center, pool, and contracted group fitness and personal training services. NIFS visited the community for a consulting arrangement in the fall of 2012 and provided a variety of recommendations to unify their program offerings in creating a stronger wellness brand. Following those recommendations, community leadership felt that NIFS could best lead this movement for the community and began staffing services with a full-time NIFS Waterfront Wellness Director.
The community had strong elements of a wellness program in place for its residents. The Wellness Director will be leading the initiative at the community and helping to pull in the various programs, services, and personnel under a unified vision for the program. In addition, the Wellness Director will be providing NIFS’s traditional best-in-class fitness programming and management services.
NIFS launched at the community in early April and we are thrilled with the progress made with increasing resident awareness of new and existing services available at the community and with the turnout at the Waterfront Wellness Open House. Residents received a passport to guide them on a tour of different booths. The booths highlighted different programs and service offerings around the community and educated participants on the different dimensions of wellness. Eighty-nine percent of residents who participated in the event submitted a completed passport indicating that they visited every booth. This was a great first step in helping residents identify the various programs and service offerings available at Sandhill Cove under the Waterfront Wellness Program.
Bethany Garrity, on Tue, May 14, 2013
We sit. Frankly, we sit a lot. We sit at home, we sit on our commutes, we sit at work, we sit during our child’s after-school activities. Sit, sit, sit. And it’s not doing us any favors, either. In fact, recent startling statistics indicate that sitting may be a significant threat to our overall wellbeing.
Before you write this off as one of those “it can’t be that bad” indicators, consider these statistics. There are even more (if you need more convincing) in this compelling infographic.
And to those of you who say that sitting disease is really a problem only for people who don’t work out, think again. Data shows that prolonged sitting can negate some of the benefits you receive from regular exercise. Let me just say it one more time: How often we sit is a problem.
NIFS’s Fit-It-In Gets Results in Combating Sitting
So there it is: sitting is our great nemesis. If you’ve been wracking your brain for strategies that actually combat the gravitational pull to a chair, look no further. Below is an outline for one of NIFS’s award-winning programs, Fit-It-In, with real results that can be implemented in any worksite health setting.
But before I get into program specifics, I need to say that if you don’t have built-in strategies for evaluating your programs, you’ll want to be sure you establish that basic infrastructure in order to determine whether your efforts at combating sitting disease are actually working. For more on how NIFS evaluates our programs, read this blog. After all, without effective evaluation strategies, you can’t get fantastic data like this: Before Fit-It-In started, 100% of associates polled indicated they were sedentary at least four hours per day. By the end of the program, only 8% of associates polled indicated that they were sedentary four or more hours per day.
In the Beginning
This conceptually simple and highly effective program, called Fit-It-In, is the brainchild of one of NIFS’s managers, Kathy Douglas. Kathy manages a corporate fitness center for NIFS at a client where there is a lot of sitting. She, like most of us in worksite health promotion, had been following the news coming out in the last few years about the dangers of sitting and felt compelled to address this for the associates she serves.
She knew that if she could just get them into the fitness center, she could help them, even with small breaks in the day, to feel better and to gradually improve their health. But she was up against (1) individual inertia, and (2) a corporate culture for productivity that kept associates in their seats.
After much research, discussion with leadership at her client location, and careful outlining of the program’s goals and objectives, she launched Fit-It-In. The primary goal of the program was to help improve associate health and engagement by providing them with an efficient and convenient method of fitting in more physical activity throughout their workday.
Fighting Inertia to Improve Employee Health
Kathy knew she had a lot of work to do to reach the 500+ associates at her location with a message about moving more, and she was certain that focusing on getting them into the fitness center was going to be met with significant resistance. So she brought exercise to the associates and incorporated a variety of simple opportunities/events through which associates could engage in movement-oriented activities without having to truly work out.
Program features included the following:
Pretty great list of services in the initiative, right? Well, here’s the thing: Kathy knew (she’s been with this client for five years) that unless she was able to get support from mid-level managers, this initiative would flop, no matter how creative, relevant, simple, or potentially impactful it was.
Engaging Managers to Support Employee Exercise
Truly, this is what sets this program apart from others. Kathy spent a significant amount of front-end time with managers in the organization talking with them about Fit-It-In: how it would benefit their productivity goals as well as the health of their department members. She also sought buy-in from the executive leadership in her location so that the mid-level managers would know they had the support they needed to get Fit-It-In off the ground in their division.
Easy enough. On to the next steps, right? Unfortunately, it took a lot of effort on Kathy’s part to overcome managers’ resistance to allowing their employees to move for five minutes during a meeting, or at each hourly bell. There were significant concerns in some areas about productivity and department goals being compromised because employees would not be 100% focused on work 100% of the time.
It’s a common hurdle, but it’s not commonly overcome. Kathy was able to gain a lot of traction with these supervisors by presenting Fit-It-In jointly with Human Resources. She engaged the managers in conversation at the end of the presentation to listen to their concerns and other feedback. Kathy added elements to the initiative in response to those discussions and ultimately was able to remove most of the identified barriers to generate a win-win message.
If you want to read about how Kathy was able to go from 100% of associates reporting that they were sedentary for four or more hours to just 8% indicating that they were sedentary for four or more hours each day, you won’t want to miss part 2 of this blog. We’ll dig into the data, as well as offer an overview on how the program was implemented. I’ll also outline some of our key lessons learned.
Bethany Garrity, on Mon, May 6, 2013
If you quietly answered yes to that question and then pulled your office door shut so no one would know you were reading this blog, it’s okay. Take a deep breath. You’re not the only one who has struggled with occupancy at one time or another.
Kudos to you for looking at alternative means to boost your occupancy. It’s true: wellness programming hasn’t been a traditional area for tackling occupancy issues. But as more and more communities get on board with providing a healthy lifestyle for their residents, a creative and well-executed resident wellness strategy will become essential for communities to compete in the marketplace.
That may be the future, but I don’t think it’s too far off. And positioning your community now with a standout fitness and wellness program for your residents will only build your competitive advantage.
If you’re looking for some baby steps to take to get you started, consider reviewing the National Whole-Person Wellness Survey available from Mather LifeWays for $15. The report is extensive and details various trends in community wellness, covering multiple dimensions as well as details about program participation and anticipated future trends in community wellness.
You can also register for the NIFS Build Vitality webinar series. In this free four-part webinar series, we cover wellness branding, fitness centers, wellness staffing, and wellness programs.
If this all seems like too much to bite off for now, watch the short video below to hear why senior living marketing professionals are convinced robust wellness programming is central to their occupancy success.
Shawna Kendrick, on Wed, Apr 24, 2013
Do you like what you see? NIFS Monthly Bulletin Boards are available for purchase to utilize in your corporate fitness center or active aging community, contact us for more information.
Bethany Garrity, on Fri, Apr 5, 2013
In the first part of this blog, we talked about key strategies to set your program up for success. Remember “begin at the beginning” and “map out the ‘how’”? If you’re still intent on getting data you can actually use from your wellness program, keep reading to learn what do to now that you’re ready to run the initiative.
This seems so obvious, so I won’t spend much time on it. Here’s the thing: you spend a lot of time mapping out the goals and the objectives to achieve those goals, and then you design your program around that outline. For heaven’s sake, stick to the plan. Implement the program as close to the original design as possible. If you get into the offering and you find a fatal flaw in the plan, change what you must, but in order for your evaluation to be true, educational, and actionable, you need to stick to the plan.
Drum roll, please. We’re about to get to the goods, so stick with me here. So, you set up your goals, you map out how you will accomplish the goals, you craft your program accordingly, you bravely stick with the plan, and then when it’s all over, you evaluate how you did.
We think about your post-program evaluation in two ways:
In addition to crunching some basic numbers, our staff members are responsible for reporting their program results to their supervisor, who then works with the manager on developing strategies for future program improvements. The supervisor also makes sure that best practice information is shared among other staff so that important lessons learned can be used by everyone. After all, if you hit on some brilliant technique for communicating with the audience you need to reach, shouldn’t the entire community working with that audience benefit from your success?
We’ve been following The Wellness Challenge program as an example throughout these two blogs. So let me wrap up with some of the juicy data Reggie, the manager responsible for this initiative, was able to gather based on pre- and post-program evaluation.
Straight from Reggie’s report, here are his proposed changes for the next The Wellness Challenge offering, as well as his quick summary of his goals:
For next year to improve overall program impact:
So Reggie learned he’s got some work to do if he folds those same unmet goals into next year’s offering. He’ll need to revamp his strategies. He’s already well on his way to crafting that plan because he has this complete outline on which to build an improved The Wellness Challenge.
Certainly there’s more than one way to skin this evaluation cat. How are you doing it? What are you learning? Program evaluation is only one element of a first-rate wellness strategy. Communicating a strong wellness brand, having quality physical spaces for where your initiatives can occur, and cultivating amazing wellness staff are all central to a fabulous program.
Bethany Garrity, on Wed, Apr 3, 2013
I think our staff members roll their eyes every time they hear me start talking about gathering data from our programs. That might be because I talk about it a lot; it might also be because I’m a little bit of a geek about data. Regardless, they can eye-roll all they want, because when the data gathering and program evaluation is done right, well, it’s a beautiful thing!
Let me explain by using an example from a program that recently wrapped up at one of our senior living client locations. “The Wellness Challenge” has been offered for two years at the community. It’s a good wellness survey type of program that encourages residents to dig into all dimensions of wellness. There are several positive and important elements to The Wellness Challenge:
Now, to be fair, this program was not the brainchild of the current NIFS manager, Reggie. However, he was able to take the original offering from his predecessor, which involved no evaluation strategy, and transform it so that we have both a rich offering for the client, and actionable data that will inform future offerings of both this program and others like it.
What, you ask, is actionable data? Good question! In this two-part blog, we’ll look at four tips for getting the data you want from your wellness program. Part 1 focuses on the before-you-launch-the-program elements (tips #1 and #2). Part 2 will focus on during-the-program and post-program components (tips #3 and #4).
The whole evaluation and data thing starts by being strategic with the program on the front end. That’s right; we are moving away from running fun programs just to run them (shocking, I know). The staff members actually set program goals before they run the program and then they make sure that the program they’re offering is set up in a way to allow for evaluation of those goals.
You’ve established these two to three program goals. They are succinct; they tie back to your overall wellness program focus; they are written on a scale you can support. Great job! Now it’s time to map out your plan to actually achieve those goals.
No, it’s not enough to outline the goals and then just run the program. That’s like pulling up to the shooting range and saying, “Ready…Fire!” Forgetting to aim means you will most likely miss your target―unless you are extremely lucky.
For example, if you set a goal to increase group fitness class attendance by 15% for the duration of the program, you need to outline the steps you will take to achieve that goal. In the case of The Wellness Challenge, Reggie built the program so that participation in group classes was weighted more heavily than some other activities, and he gave more points for participating in cardiovascular exercise (which, he emphasized, could be achieved by taking classes). In short, he incentivized what he was trying to drive people to do. (Genius, I know!)
You won’t want to miss part 2 of this blog, where we look into how to run the program and what to do when it’s over.