Corporate Fitness and Active Aging

Residents Seek Quality Senior Living Fitness Programs

GettyImages-674714126 (1)I recently had a resident from one of our client sites in Illinois contact me wanting to know which senior living communities in greater-Indianapolis NIFS was partnered with as she would soon be relocating to be closer to her daughter. She wanted to refine her search to communities where NIFS was similarly providing a robust health and fitness program to what she had come to experience in her current community. She had done some exploring on her own and quickly recognized that communities simply having an onsite fitness center with some weekly exercise classes did not measure up for her.

Think about that for just a minute, she was making visits to communities and spending time on websites; a fitness center walk-thru during a tour or clicking on some pictures of amenities on a website were not showing her enough. This informed consumer understood the value and distinction of a professionally managed fitness program and she wanted to narrow her focus to where she knows NIFS helps communities deliver on their brand promise of supporting residents in living well. A couple of observations on her part that she loved about her NIFS program:

  • Amazing Staff: she commented on how much she enjoys and appreciates the knowledgeable and degreed NIFS staff at her community. She shared how much she valued the relationship with the staff and the creative and engaging ways they keep her motivated.
  • Robust Programming: she loves a good challenge and finds that NIFS exercise challenges, incentives and educational programs keep her motivated. She likes the regular schedule of NIFS initiatives and is always asking what’s next!

Community leadership or life enrichment staff in senior living communities might not even see the distinction the way this resident does. After all, fitness is only component of an overall wellness program and/or community to operate. Or perhaps you are thinking other seniors wouldn’t make such an astute observation in a fitness program.

When NIFS first begins staffing services at a community and offering creative programs to engage residents, one of the common pieces of feedback we hear from clients is, “We didn’t even know what we were missing or that you would be able to get as many different residents engaged.” They knew they wanted to do better when bringing us in, but how quickly we’d make an impact regularly takes them by surprise. It’s always one of our favorite moments in a client relationship!

Here are a couple of examples of that program growth at NIFS client locations:

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In particular, take a look at the Total Members, Classes Offered/Month and Class Participants/Month. There are not a significant number of new classes added to the calendar at either community but through our ability to recruit and engage more residents in the fitness program, overall class participation increased by 46% across these two communities. If you think your group fitness participation is strong now, how would it look with an increase of almost 50%? What about a 34% increase in the number of one-on-one appointments conducted during the month? What kind of message would that participation convey to current and prospective residents? Is that a distinction your community needs?

This holds true with many residents as well. Once they see and experience the distinction, the fitness program becomes one of their biggest areas of pride in the community and something they vocally champion to visitors, guests and family members. Over a decade ago when I was still managing a NIFS fitness center, it was always interesting to hear the oohs and ahhs of guests of residents who joined them for a class or came into the fitness center to exercise with them. They would often tell me how it compared to the fitness center in the community in which they lived or in comparison to the resources available to them aging in place at home. Again, they had to experience it to see the distinction.

Perhaps it’s time to evaluate the quality of your wellness program to discover opportunities for your community to create distinction in the active lifestyle of your residents. It may also be time to consider your marketing message and how you are positioning your fitness program with prospects.

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Topics: senior fitness resident wellness programs resident fitness improving senior fitness

NIFS is Supporting the Heartline Study and You Can Too

GettyImages-1200863072With NIFS non-profit mission rooted in research and helping people age successfully through the lifespan, we are excited to support a new research study from Johnson and Johnson, in collaboration with Apple. Heartline is a heart health study for individuals 65+ with the goal of helping participants understand and directly engage in their heart health and improve health outcomes.

As NIFS is currently partnered with dozens of senior living communities across the country and our residents love to learn about a variety of health topics, current research, and trending technology, we reached out to Heartline to learn more. What we discovered is that NIFS is uniquely positioned within the senior living industry to help support this study while also inspiring our residents with their desire to learn, contribute and be active.

Check out the website at www.heartline.com/NIFS as they do a great job describing the intentions of the study and how to get involved. Anyone residing in the US who is 65+ with an iPhone 6s or later and who has Medicare coverage is eligible to participate. Hello huge boomer population, we are talking to you! You don’t have to be personally invited or residing within a senior living community to get involved. If you meet the criteria above, you can visit the website to get started.

Here are a few things that I took away from our first discussion together that I really liked about Heartline and the helpful folks from Johnson and Johnson.

  • Ease of use: The study first launched in early 2020 giving them opportunity to gather user feedback on the Heartline app. If we were to introduce the study to our members, we knew that many would have questions on the ease of participating and using their iPhone or Apple watch. The Heartline app is in the app store and is currently rated at 4.6 stars with many positive reviews on not only how easy it is to participate but how individuals have increased their physical activity levels as a result of participating. Win #1.
  • Participant perks: By joining the study, individuals are not only contributing to medical research but they receive heart health education and have an opportunity to earn rewards. Again, reading some of the reviews within the Heartline app is a great showcase of how beneficial some participants have found the educational aspect to be in making positive lifestyle choices. Win #2.
  • Getting started: The knowledgeable team members from Johnson and Johnson made it easy for NIFS to get started in promoting Heartline by providing us with marketing collateral to help spread the word to our members. Not only did they provide flyers and newsletter article content we could use, but they helped us tailor it in a way that aligns with our messaging to our members while meeting their standards. Win #3.

NIFS is now promoting the Heartline study within the fitness centers we manage in senior living communities to be an advocate of research, heart health and technology in the realm of physical activity and older adults. You can be an advocate too by sharing the website with local senior centers, senior living communities, church groups, or the seniors in your life.

Topics: resident wellness programs improving senior fitness

One resident’s reason to keep pushing forward

timThe individualized exercise prescription continues to be a strong driver of resident engagement in fitness programming in the senior living communities we serve. The approach is highly personalized and we have helped residents prepare for vacations with the grandkids, train for an upcoming golf season, focus on balance training, and condition for mountain hiking trips. The unique motivations for residents to begin or adapt their exercise routine are always inspiring. I have been working in fitness in the senior living industry for almost 20 years and the resident success stories we hear never get old and always bring a smile to my face. Hearing about individuals reclaiming their independence, achieving new goals, and gaining confidence is powerful and we are fortunate to work in a field that allows us to play a role in these accomplishments.

I had the pleasure of receiving the following feedback from Ashlie Burnett, our client contact at the Heritage at Brentwood in Brentwood, Tennessee this fall regarding our fitness manager, Tim Parrott and his work with a resident.

“Earlier today I walked past the Group Exercise Studio and noticed a resident was dancing with Tim. (Not actively, but Tim was present and nearby.) In conversation, I asked Tim and he said this resident has started and stopped a fitness routine every few months. He finally asked her specific goals and she said to dance. He decided to turn her exercise prescription into dance! Tim said after dancing for a couple of minutes she loosens up and her balance improves slightly. This is such a great example of functional fitness! Tim is a great addition to The Heritage and resource for residents.”     – Ashlie

According to resident Mrs. Nona Jane Kroha on her exercise prescription, “It has given me an impetus to move forward!”

Topics: resident wellness programs resident wellbeing Wellness consulting Active Aging

Active Aging: Practicing Gratitude to Support Well-Being

MMFC gratitude treeNIFS active aging staff across the country provided a focus on self-care programming for the senior living residents we serve with an emphasis on a variety of avenues to practice gratitude. While 2020 may have left us feeling restricted with so many variables outside of our control, practicing gratitude as a component of a well-rounded self-care routine empowered residents to reflect on the positive aspects in their life and enhance their well-being. After all, research has proven that people who practice gratitude show more positive emotions, demonstrate more kindness, and even have stronger immune systems.

Here’s a little bit what our staff are reporting from those offerings:

NIFS Wellness Director, Candace - Newport News, Virginia

“We provided an Emotional Wellness Presentation focusing on education and self-care practices to enhance emotional well-being. Residents were very thankful for this presentation as most have felt their mental health has suffered during COVID-19. We also hosted a Gratitude Workshop where residents created Gratitude Pumpkins. They wrote all of the things they are thankful for on the pumpkin. They were also given “gratitude exercises” and thank you cards to write to those they are most thankful for!”

NIFS Wellness Coordinator, Meredith - Raleigh, North Carolina

“We hosted a speaker here that is a psychiatrist and he spoke on aging with grace (specifically during COVID-19) and so much of what he reflected on was taking time to express gratitude especially in the times when we feel we have the least to be grateful for.”

NIFS Fitness Specialist, Jennifer - Lakewood, New Jersey

“For our Health Center, family members recorded a short video wishing their loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving with well wishes. This was displayed on Touch Town on Thanksgiving Day. The excitement and wishes that the family members expressed were breathe taking. I have to say, that the programs and exercises that we provide, the residents are extremely thankful and appreciative.”

NIFS Fitness Manager, Miles - Bridgewater, New Jersey

“To deal with the toll the year has taken on resident’s mental and physical health, I ran a two-part presentation discussing the importance of stress management and mental health as we approached the COVID affected holiday season. The residents attended enjoyed the material and we were able to have great discussions after both presentations. In fact, hearing their concerns inspired me to begin a meditation class in December.”

NIFS Wellness Coordinator, Becca - Indianapolis, Indiana

“We ran a Tree of Gratitude program where we watched a tree grow full of gratitude leaves filled out be residents. The tree grew and filled in with more and more leaves as the month went on as a strong visual representation of what individuals and our community as a whole has to be thankful for.”

NIFS Wellness Director, Miles – Richmond, Virginia

“Residents were thankful for the self-care material as it was really needed here during this time period. The chaplain gave us recognition for the program, promoting each self-care week offering during her weekly bible study that is streamed.”

 

Self-care continues to be more important than ever as we not only ride out the challenges of the pandemic but also through the seasonal changes ahead where many have difficulty being as physically active and struggle with seasonal mood disorder. Additional offerings NIFS team members provided residents over the holiday season included deep breathing exercises, laughter yoga, Chi Tea and Tai Chi events, mindful meal planning, mindfulness practices and healthy sleep tips. Adopt a daily practice of identifying three things you are grateful for and consider these additional self-care tips from NIFS to show yourself and others a little love.

Evaluate your wellness program using our Quick Read: How to evaluate your Wellness Program, click below to download!

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Topics: senior wellness programs resident wellness programs Wellness consulting Active Aging

Why we can quit following health observances in senior living?

September is a busy month with national health observances which are geared to bring awareness and resources to individuals or caregivers for issues ranging from childhood obesity to senior independence and just about every chronic health condition in between. For many, the health observance may be one of the only times during the year in which they have access to these additional resources.

If you think about it, older adults who reside in senior living communities have access to these types of resources every single day. As NIFS partners with senior living communities across the country in managing their fitness programs, we see firsthand the impact that the vibrant lifestyle has on enhancing the lives of seniors. The scope of resources from health services to socialization to robust physical activity programs help seniors thrive and are built into the lifestyle 365 days per year opposed to a week or month-long health campaign. It’s not just about increasing awareness, the lifestyle provides the tools and resources for older adults to effectively manage their health and maintain their independence. We witness minds put at ease from the convenient access to exceptional dining, medical care and amenities and lives lived to their fullest.

GettyImages-1029344612Let’s look at some examples for September’s health observances that align with the lifestyle that residents in senior living communities have at their fingertips every single day:

  • Healthy Aging Month: well that’s a gimme with the month-long focus on the positive aspects of growing older and bringing inspiration to improving the physical, social, mental, and financial well-being of those 45+. These types of enrichment opportunities fill the lifestyle calendars every single month in senior living communities.
  • National Yoga Awareness Month: brings awareness to the benefits of yoga and its attributes in living a healthy lifestyle. Yoga classes are a senior living staple on the group fitness calendar as the research behind the gentle poses and stretches bring flexibility, strength and balance gains to the participants as well as enhancing the mind/body connection.
  • National Fall Prevention Week: We know that fall prevention is a year-round priority for seniors and NIFS Balance Redefined program brings a comprehensive service model of balance training and fall prevention programming to the communities we serve. Balance classes and rehab departments are commonplace services within senior living.

Just like any industry, some senior living communities have an edge with the scope of amenities and quality of services available to their residents. If you are exploring how a senior living community measures up in fulfilling these lifestyle goals, ask these questions:

  • If you are motivated to become more physically active, does the community have a fitness center with professional staffing and a robust service model of classes, appointments, and programs? Most communities have a fitness center, but the staffing makes all the difference!
  • If you are interested in gaining more socialization, how do the activities, outings, and dining experiences align with your personal passions and interests? How many new offerings are on the calendar each month to keep things fresh?
  • If you are looking for intellectual enrichment, how do the programs engage participants and spark conversation?  There is a difference in the lifelong opportunities available between attending “sit and listen lectures” and events that truly foster new life experiences.

Of course we support initiatives that help connect people with additional resources for any health condition they or a loved one might be experiencing and the national health observances do a nice job with that. For more information on other observances, check out this link from the US Department of Health and Human Services. In closing, we’ll consider the lifestyle available to residents within senior living communities a yearlong health observance for the best of both worlds.

How we improved an already successful fitness program

Topics: senior wellness programs resident wellness programs activities calendar senior living

Lives Enriched through NIFS Legacy Program

Legacy photo-1In February, you may have read about NIFS Legacy Program which was run at a number of our senior living client sites across the country. Many fitness centers were considering programs to promote cardiovascular health for Heart Health Month and this initiative had its own way of tugging at the heart strings. As I was reviewing the monthly reports that our staff were submitting highlighting their program offerings and participation in the month of February, I was touched by this quote from our Wellness Director, Candace Montgomery, at The Chesapeake in Newport News, Virginia, a LifeSpire of Virginia community. NIFS has been partnered with LifeSpire since 2016 to manage their Vibrance program across three of their communities. As you read below, you’ll understand how the resident response to this program exemplifies how LifeSpire is committed to creating joy, purpose, growth, and community in daily living for their residents and we are honored to help create these experiences.

“We took part in NIFS Legacy Project which was a huge success for our Independent Living, Assisted Living and Healthcare residents with 74 participants. It was very interesting learning about residents lives and memories that they jotted down during this project. This project was also very touching for many residents who live in Independent Living but have spouses in Healthcare. One resident in particular came to our fitness office in tears of joy about the heartwarming conversations she had with her husband in Healthcare regarding their life and their children and all of the happy memories that occurred. This is truly what the Legacy Project was all about!”  - Candace Montgomery, NIFS Wellness Director

Candace is absolutely right. That IS what it’s all about and I see and feel so much from reading her summary.

  • I see a compassionate and creative wellness professional who values the stories that her residents have to share and a team-oriented approach that was needed to make this program a success.
  • I see 74 residents across all continuums of care participating in a program that gives them purpose and warms their hearts (all of our hearts frankly).
  • I see a couple reminiscing about the beautiful life they continue to share because they are receiving the care and support they need in a nurturing environment.
  • And I see family members receiving a keepsake that will be cherished for generations to come.

All four of these bullets shine a spotlight on the impact that quality wellness programs can have on your staff, residents, and their families; all were enriched by this program.

While many know us as a fitness management company, our staff are regularly offering holistic programs of this nature to support the overall well-being of the residents we serve. In addition, we strive to bridge programs and services throughout the continuums of care to benefit all residents. Here are a few tips to help carry programs that are offered to your IL residents over to your licensed areas with a little creative planning and teamwork.

Thank you to Candace and the team at The Chesapeake for enriching lives of the residents in your community and for enriching us from afar with your story.

Is outsourcing fitness center management right for your community?

 

Topics: senior wellness senior wellness programs resident wellness programs legacy

Active Aging: Taking an In-Depth Look at Community Programs

4399_KF_3168Community wellness programming is one of the most important ways to keep your residents engaged. As wellness professionals, it’s our job to make sure that the programs being put into play are impactful and enjoyable, and continue to set precedents and work on the varying dimensions of wellness.

ZOOM: Get a New Perspective on Wellness

Have you heard of the book Zoom? It’s a children’s book by Istvan Banyai. Each page zooms out a little bit farther until you see the bigger picture. Sometimes, as wellness leaders, we tend to forget to “zoom out” and look at what’s working and what isn’t.

When looking at the bigger picture, try to take in all of the offerings at the community. What is working? What isn’t working? What programs need to be revamped or even tossed out? How is your community keeping up with fitness and wellness trends in order to stand out among the rest?

Collecting and Analyzing Data

Most communities have a way of collecting attendance data and feedback from residents. If this isn't happening at your community, consider it to be of utmost importance in order to provide quality programming and understand how residents react to evolving programming.

For communities that do not have data collection in place, consider looking at this blog post by Emily Davenport, NIFS Director of Fitness Management and Active Aging Services, to help you understand how to get started. Once you have a clean, simple way of collecting resident data, it will eliminate a lot of stress.

For communities that do have this in place, look through the data to see what is trending at the community and what isn’t. What trends are you seeing? Are you noticing an influx of residents committing to a program for a couple of months and then falling off the wagon? Are you seeing numbers holding steady and noticing a positive benefit from certain programs that are worth keeping the same? Being able to tap into this data collection is key when deciding what works for the community and what needs to be improved upon.

To Keep or Not to Keep?

Taking an in-depth look into offerings is also a great way to understand whether something needs to be let go. A great way to do this is to look at comparative data over the months/years and start asking questions. If you notice that a program or offering fluctuates in attendance, you may want to consider revamping the offering in a new and exciting way. Maybe the program went from being well-attended to never attended. If that’s the case, you probably would be better off taking away that program and adding something else, or recreating a different offering to increase attendance.

Always Leave Them Wanting MORE

When resident attendance starts to increase, keep in mind that your programs need to evolve. This doesn’t mean that you need to constantly reinvent the wheel, but it does mean that you should continually add different aspects to your programs. If we lack evolution of our offerings, our communities start to get stagnant and too comfortable. Including new and innovative ways to get our community members involved is a key piece when standing out as wellness professionals.

The reason most of us have become wellness professionals is to impact the well-being and improve the quality of life for our residents, patients, or team members. It’s our duty to continually provide engaging, fun, and interactive ways for our community members to learn, grow, and live out their lives in a positive way.

Check out our Quickread to evaluate the quality of your wellness program, click below.

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Topics: senior wellness active aging data collection resident wellness programs wellness programming resident engagement data analysis community wellness

Creating Purpose for Residents in Senior Living

MMFC_Becca with member-1Fitness management is the cornerstone of our business. Recently we have seen an uptick in clients requesting our support in developing broader wellness programming for their residents through the continuums of care. Sometimes the need arises due to challenges with community personnel who don’t have the tools and resources to cultivate the desired lifestyle for residents. Sometimes it’s because they don’t have a point person to pull everyone together out of their silos across the continuums. Sometimes it’s both! Sound familiar?

How Well Is Your Community Collaborating on Purposeful Programs?

Ask yourself a few questions about how well your community is collaborating and building programs with purpose and intention:

  • Do activities staff collaborate regularly on program and service options across departments and disciplines such as dining, fitness, health services, the chaplain, and the social worker?
  • Do activities staff across all continuums of care collaborate regularly on programs and services and work toward common goals together?
  • Is your calendar full of activities to keep your residents busy (for example, cards, movies, speakers, shopping trips, and so on), or is your calendar crafted with activities that create purpose for residents?

A Visit with a Senior Living Client in New Jersey

I provided a solution to these answers during a recent visit with a senior living client in New Jersey. We have been providing our traditional fitness management services to this client for the past four years. The approach we discussed was shifting our degreed and certified staff into a Wellness Director role, who maintains fitness duties in the fitness center while also facilitating a strong collaborative approach with activities personnel in independent living and health care.

This particular client has come to expect creative and diverse program offerings from our Fitness Manager. Events offered last month for Active Aging Week included Yoga Poses and Doggy Noses (yep, that’s yoga with dogs folks), a Blood Drive, and Movies & Smoothies. Past events included their Polar Plunge, Mind Moves, and Healthy Habit Bingo. As the client recognizes the experiences we create for residents that promote engagement and movement versus sit-and-listen events, they begin to lean on us to support them more broadly outside the realm of fitness. We are also seeing a strong desire for the standard of programming cultivated within independent living to carry consistently through assisted living and health care environments. But we are aware of the struggle communities have to bring that to fruition.

NIFS Staff Members Make the Difference

Our strength lies in the people we hire—in their ability to build exceptional relationships with the residents who participate in their programs and also with the staff at the community with whom they collaborate regularly. Their background as health and fitness professionals empowers them with program solutions to support whole-person well-being. The tools and resources they have behind them from NIFS create the space for strategic planning with key stakeholders in resident well-being.

We essentially become a champion for your community by fueling ideas, breaking down the silos, and getting everyone working from the same playbook on a new standard of program and service offerings. If you are interested in hearing more about NIFS's support of broader wellness programming within your senior living communities, contact me or read on.

Find out more about a free consulting session with NIFS >

 

Topics: senior fitness management resident wellness programs functional movement resident engagement senior living activities activities calendar senior living nifs staff

Knowing what makes your residents tick could improve programs

Your community is, or should be built on resident satisfaction. Your residents are your priority, but they are also your revenue. Without them, your community increases the chances of failing. It’s important to understand this when building programming at your senior living community.

Every community is different. Every resident has a specific want or need. Our job as Wellness Managers is to hone in on what those needs and wants are and to address them. How do you do this? Here are five ways to assess your wellness programs so they are continuously successful and you are meeting the demands of your residents.

NIFS | A closer look

#1 - Get to know your resident population

It takes some time to understand what your residents really enjoy. It’s also important to note that not all residents are the same. Where some may enjoy the social interaction and class environment, others enjoy solitary fitness or wellness programs. It’s important to identify these differences and make sure that wellness programs have variety and cover many different personalities and preferences.

#2 - Listen to ALL resident feedback and take action

This can be tough, but is necessary to grow and develop a program that residents enjoy. If a resident comes to you and says, “I don’t think this program is successful and this is why…,” it’s important to take a deep breath, and LISTEN. As hard as it may be to sit back as it feel like someone is tearing your hard work into shreds, they are providing valuable information to improve your programming. Be open to the positive and negative feedback so you can make the necessary changes for improvement.

#3 - Evaluate your wellness programs

Evaluating wellness programs is the key to success. There are many different ways to do this. The best way is to keep track of your data and evaluate it. How many residents participated in your event/program/specialty classes? Did it show an increase in overall participation for the month in which you ran the program? Did you make a survey and distribute it to residents that participated? These are all valuable ways of gathering information to see if wellness programs are a hit or a miss.

#4 - Make sure programs are evolving over time

Your programs should evolve with your residents. If you have been running the same wellness programs for five years and haven’t changed them at all, it becomes routine, less exciting for some, and participation may decrease. Give residents something new and fun to enjoy. I am not telling you to completely re-invent the wheel, but to simply add/take away/replace some aspect of your program to make it more enticing and fresh. You’ll be amazed by what small and simple modifications can do for the community and programs.

#5 - Ask for help

It’s okay to ask community leaders, colleagues and staff members for information and help to reignite or invent a completely new program. Team work is one of the best ways for a community to put on a great event. Don’t be afraid to ask for help throughout your planning.

Being proactive in assessing fitness and wellness programs will not only keep you informed about the impact you are making for your community, it will also show that you genuinely care about the goals you are trying to achieve. Your community will recognize that not only are you putting in the effort to make a program, but you are also putting in the groundwork to make that program successful, enjoyable, and have a positive impact for residents.

Click below to learn more about partnering with NIFS to manage your senior living community fitness center.

Partner with NIFS to improve your senior living community

Topics: active aging senior fitness management resident wellness programs program evaluation nifs fitness managment senior living wellness programs programming resident engagement improving senior fitness

How to Give Resident Wellness Programs a Fresh Look

517993851.jpgResident wellness programs have been on the rise in senior living as consumers demand more robust and holistic options for living well. Despite the market's increasing infatuation with branding and labeling wellness in the community setting, I think the industry has a lot of room to continue to grow so that we're building programs, services, staffing, and amenities in a way to facilitate residents' desires to live well. Following are some common pitfalls that result in dated or stunted wellness programs, along with ideas for how to evolve past those sticking points.

Your exercise program is not the same thing as your wellness program.

In the consulting work I do, it is so common for communities to point to their exercise classes as the primary example of how they are offering their residents a wellness program. And while I would agree completely that the exercise program is a key to a successful wellness strategy, it's not the only element; and for some communities, it may not even be primary.

You absolutely want the exercise program to serve many of your residents, but it's important to acknowledge that not all of your seniors will participate. The class offerings, individual services, exercise equipment, and related amenities need to be diverse and well communicated. There should also be effective resident outreach to consistently draw in new participants.

Even when communities are executing well with their program, there is often room for improvement within the exercise offerings. Class formats and descriptions can be reviewed, and fitness center services like exercise prescriptions and fitness testing should be evaluated. Even taking a closer look at replacing small, worn-down equipment can offer subtle but positive upgrades to your program.

[Related Content: Four Tips for Improving your Resident Exercise Program]

A full activities calendar is the wrong goal for your wellness program.

I think sometimes folks in the activity director role find themselves in the position of order taking—you’re catering to the vocal minority. And who can fault you for wanting to make your constituents happy? But there are traps and pitfalls for your resident wellness program if your activities and events are built from an order-taking model.

Sometimes one of the challenges with the philosophy on how events and programs are placed on the schedule is actually cultural in the organization. We set the wrong benchmarks for evaluating effectiveness in activities. We focus on how full the calendar is, or leadership communicates that the goal of the activities staff is to make sure the residents are busy, that they have something to do, that we’re making their days pleasant and full.

But if you stepped back and looked objectively at the unique elements on your last six months of activities calendars, is there anything on there that would interest you? Is there anything on those calendars that, if you were new in the environment and were looking to try to make friends, you might venture out of your apartment to attend?

When you do program planning from residents' limitations, you limit your program.

It's easy to get into a rut in senior living where you start to see more limitations from your residents than potential, and when we get trained on what seniors can't do, we unintentionally build programs around those perceived barriers.

We tell ourselves a story about the residents; we say they’re frail, they’re limited, they don’t like to leave the community, they don’t like change. We say we tried that program and the residents won’t do it.

While you may have some residents who are frail, limited, unlikely to try new things, fearful, or begrudging of change, you also have residents who can be described with a whole host of other adjectives like adventurous, bright, eager, optimistic, friendly, kind, enthusiastic, loyal, and patient.

Evolving your activities and exercise programs may require a full-scale change in how you view your residents' desires, passions, and abilities. Stripping old assumptions is never easy, but it could be the first step toward building a better wellness program for the community.

Find out how to evaluate your program

 

Topics: senior living resident wellness programs program planning activities exercise program