Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Senior Living Lifestyle: Identify Your Wellness Champion

This series features insights on developing a robust wellness-based lifestyle at your community. Some content will cover practical tips and some will identify barriers to achieving success meant to spark conversation within your community. In part 1, I talked about defining wellness and the importance of how you use that word in branding. Read on for part 2.

Staff who work in senior living communities are some of the most compassionate, dedicated, and often creative people you will meet. Their plates are full, their to-do lists are long, and it can be a heavy lift to bring down the silos between departments, which is necessary to truly cultivate balanced lifestyle offerings for residents.

The problem is not that the staff are resistant to meeting with other stakeholders in resident well-being, having more dialogue, or planning differently. (Notice here I said planning differentlynot planning more. That is the key to this approach.) It’s that there is often a missing link in bringing these different people, talents, and departments together in a sustainable fashion.

Identify a Wellness Champion

ThisGettyImages-985893328 (1) is where it is critical that communities identify their wellness champion. This person can act as a catalyst in eliminating the silos and bringing everyone together to work from a unified vision of how lifestyle offerings and services are delivered to residents.

In NIFS’ case, where our staff members are regularly referring residents to therapy and the Registered Dietitian, or collaborating with activities or dining staff, shifting our onsite Fitness Manager’s focus to a Wellness Coordinator role has been a great fit in many client settings. It’s often a natural progression because residents and other departments are already accustomed to our staff bringing people together and fostering collaboration.

Our degreed and certified staff act as educators with community staff, and they also learn how to best tap into the personal passions and interests of the team members to improve buy-in to the process. After all, they’ve already been working with many of these stakeholders for some time on other programs. Now they are simply bringing everyone to the table with improved consistency and more structure.

Here are three tips when considering how to identify your wellness champion:

  • Your champion should talk the talk and walk the walk if they are going to advocate for the message of wellness and collaboration for your community. Ask yourself, “Who would be a good spokesperson at our community to message our wellness program to prospective residents?”
  • Your champion should have strong communication and interpersonal skills to foster collaboration among your wellness team. They should be able to determine how to tap into the personal passions and talents of those on the team to leverage strengths and improve buy-in.
  • Your champion should be well organized and have strong attention to detail. After all, they are the individual responsible for keeping the team organized, establishing timelines for special events, tracking completion of tasks, and more. The champion is once again that catalyst bringing everyone together and being responsible for maintaining cohesion among the team, so they must be organized.

Help from NIFS Consulting Services

Does your community need support identifying who your wellness champion is or how to shift roles and responsibilities to support this type of position? NIFS consulting services can help you answer those questions and many more to support a collaborative approach to wellness planning.

Find out more about NIFS Consulting Services >

Topics: nifs staff lifestyle philosophy in senior living nifs wellness consulting wellness-based lifestyle wellness branding wellness coordinator nifs consulting services

Senior Living Lifestyle: Don’t Let Wellness Definition Limit Potential

What Does Wellness Mean to You?

Wellness might be one of the most overstated and broadly defined terms in the senior living industry—at least in how it is modeled from one community to the next—and it can be exhausting trying to keep up. At community A, wellness might refer to your health service offices, therapy gym, or clinician staff; whereas wellness at community B might refer to your fitness spaces and programming. Neither of those models is wrong. Neither of those models is necessarily correct, either.

GettyImages-1161759077 (1)When we’re talking about whole-person well-being, it isn’t just the health care options available, or the fitness program offerings. Communities should be cautious about how narrowly they define “wellness” when connecting it to their physical spaces or services. This can have a significant impact in the messaging of your community culture to your residents and prospective residents. Supporting resident well-being should flow through every nook, cranny, department, and service under your roof; however, many communities miss opportunities because they want the word “wellness” labeled on a space or department.

Wellness Branding Barriers

Here are some remarks I’ve heard from communities through our consulting work, where they have unknowingly created barriers for themselves.

We can’t brand our lifestyle and wellness offerings because…

  • “We call our clinic our Wellness Center, and it will confuse residents.”
    You are right. If you want to put emphasis on sick care as opposed to preventative lifestyle offerings, this would cause confusion.
  • “We call our fitness room our Wellness Center, and it will confuse residents.”
    Once again, you are right. This sends the message to residents that the only space to support their well-being is associated with physical exercise.
  • “Our monthly “wellness newsletter” promotes our fitness offerings.”
    Once again, your communication channels with residents and how you promote monthly activities carry a connotation.

Slapping the term wellness on physical spaces, services, and communication channels narrows the potential, perspective, and understanding of how your community creates purpose and intention in resident lives. It also perpetuates the silos for staff and departments who have a stake in resident well-being, keeping them from seeing the potential of how their buy-in and collaboration can make an impact. (We’ll talk more about that collaboration piece in part 3 of this blog series.)

Questions for Starting a Wellness Branding Dialogue

Ask yourself these three questions as a guide in sparking dialogue in your community:

  • What person, space, or services would come to mind for our residents if we use the word wellness?
  • Does this connotation of wellness create opportunity for a broad application of purposeful lifestyle choices that spans the interests and passions of all residents?
  • What barriers can we identify that limit our potential for broadening that definition of wellness?

Identifying your current model and barriers is your first step in making positive change toward more effectively use that term “wellness” to your community’s advantage. And now that you’ve defined and branded wellness, part 2 of this series talks about the importance of designating a staff wellness champion for your community.

Wellness Consulting from NIFS

Need some support? NIFS provides wellness consulting to senior living communities across the US. Visit our website and download the “What to Expect from a NIFS Consulting Visit” for more information.

Find out more about NIFS Consulting Services >

Topics: senior living communities senior living fitness center communication lifestyle philosophy in senior living nifs wellness consulting wellness-based lifestyle wellness branding

Help for Foot Pain Could Be as Simple as Your Laces

GettyImages-1173137476 (1)Oh, my aching feet! More importantly, why do my feet hurt? Let me explain further. At times in the past, the top of my foot has felt like it was being crushed by the laces of my sneakers. I logically thought that all I needed to do was loosen the laces of my sneakers and it would solve the problem. It did not help. Really, all it did was create more problems because then my sneakers felt like they were going to fall off, and then the loose-fitting sneakers began to rub on and irritate my heels. On top of that, when I did loosen the laces, the shoes would then come untied too easily.

Asking a Podiatrist

I am a runner, and having this issue was becoming extremely frustrating. I even went so far as to try new running shoes (to no avail). After all of this, I began to think there was something wrong with my feet. I asked one of my friends, who happens to be a podiatrist, his thoughts. He began by asking me to take off my sneakers. (“Ugh,” I thought to myself, because I had just run in those things, and you could only imagine my embarrassment!) This first thing he did was take the insoles out of my shoes and examine them. He didn’t look at my feet—just my shoe insoles!

Then he said to me, “You have a high instep, and we need to create more space in your sneaker.” Create more space? I was perplexed. He then began to unlace my sneakers and re-lace them, avoiding lacing the middle eyelets of each shoe. I put my sneakers back on; and to my delight, I had no pain.

From there I began to think about how lacing your sneakers differently or more creatively could alleviate pain in your feet in other scenarios as well. Turns out, there is a plethora of information on the internet that speaks to that very topic.

The Important of Shoe Fit for Seniors

I am lucky enough to have a job doing what I love. I work in an active aging community, and so often I see people suffering with painful bunions, toe or foot deformities, and even arthritis. These painful issues combined with mobility problems seem to go together with people wearing ill-fitting shoes to accommodate their foot and/or mobility concerns. I see things like people buying shoes that are too big to make it easier to slide their foot in and out of, or trying to alleviate the pressure of a shoe pressing on an already painful bunion. Ill-fitting shoes can even increase your risk for a fall, and adversely affect things like circulation or neuropathy.

If balance or painful feet are an issue for you, you should start with your doctor first and from there consider meeting with a shoe-fit specialist only after your doctor has assured you that there is nothing that needs to be medically managed first. It may be something such as a shoe that is too large or small, or even just your laces!

I came across this article in Self magazine that speaks to creative lacing techniques. It made all the difference for me, and it might for you, too!

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Topics: shoes running active aging foot health foot pain pain