The benefits of having a wellness program in senior living facilities are numerous. Obviously, there are physical benefits, such as increased strength, range-of-motion, and neuromuscular communication. Emotional nurturing, social engagement and intellectual stimulation are also an important part of the wellness continuum, as is promoting spiritual self-care. Creating a program that encompasses the many aspects of wellness is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive, but necessary to create a culture with your seniors that promotes a holistically healthy lifestyle. Life satisfaction and overall sense of well-being greatly contribute to an increased lifespan, therefore, length of stay.
The Rebuild Me Wellness Program was designed and created to address all of the above topics with evidenced-based science and is an invaluable tool in creating a wellness culture. However, the most important aspect of a balanced program is the staff who implement it. For years, I worked at not only creating wellness programs, but building wellness cultures in independent, assisted, and skilled facilities. The program itself is important, but having engaged staff is absolutely necessary. They provide the daily interaction that ushers in and facilitates a wellness culture. Following are what I call the 4 P’s that are helpful in guiding staff to create a wellness culture using the Rebuild Me Program.
When planning for the day, most people look at what has to be done. Purposeful planning looks at why. What is the purpose of the activity or class? How will your residents benefit from what you have planned for the day? How can you enhance the resident’s involvement and the increase their benefit? Preparation that focuses on purpose delivers results!
Passion is contagious! Passion represents belief – you cannot be passionate about something you don’t believe in. The exercise classes in the Rebuild Me program are a good example. Why would residents want to take an exercise class if the person presenting it doesn’t appear interested or engaged? The benefits of the class may be huge, but residents’ interest usually mirrors staffs’ interest. Passion in presentation gives validity to the activity or class and creates excitement in participation!
Staff participation cannot be overstated. The first quarterly activity Fast Frenzied Fun is a game I developed and saw huge results from. It isn’t much different than other “games” you see residents playing other than the fact of staff participation. When I sat in the circle with the residents, encouraging and playing with them – that’s when the pace picked up, the smiles and laughter burst out, and the benefits began to show. Positive participation levels the playing field and creates unity with staff and residents.
We all have good intentions, and our residents are no different. They know there is value in participation, but – sometimes they forget, fall asleep, or get distracted. That’s why I made it a personal rule to reach out to every person – every time. I set aside time to go door to door, reminding – inviting – and encouraging every resident. One woman took three years before she would participate, and now she never misses. Another took a year. She said with a smile, “I finally ran out of excuses!” Liberty Hyde Bailey once said, “A garden requires patient labor and attention. Plants do not grow merely to satisfy ambitions or to fulfill good intentions. They thrive because someone expended effort on them.”
Encourage staff to expend the effort – our seniors are worth it!