WELLNESS CENTERS: A Case Study
Montague, Kim Peters, and Wiley Piazza Montague,
Eippert & Associates
Montague (center), Kim Peters (left) and Wiley Piazza (right) are colleagues at Montague, Eippert and Associates, which
specializes in the design, development and implementation of
wellness programs for older adults. For more information, please
call Jan Montague at 859-442-5009 or visit www.me-a.com
Programs and Centers
are becoming more prevalent in senior living communities across the
country. Current information clearly indicates that wellness programming
improves function and promotes successful living among older adults.
Wellness initiatives at communities benefit both residents and staff. The
next generation of residents will demand wellness as a way of life.
Communities that do not have wellness programs may very well be thought of
as being "behind the times". Often, communities are reluctant to
commit the resources necessary for developing a comprehensive wellness
program for fear of failure. In other words, what happens if this program
is not a success?
purpose of this article is to highlight several wellness programs that are
successful. Montague, Eippert & Associates (specialists in the design,
development and implementation of wellness programs and centers) have
worked with individuals and communities across the country through
consulting, training workshops, and as judges of national awards in
identifying programs that work. Take this opportunity to learn from these
professionals regarding the creation of a successful senior wellness
Look At Wellness Across the Country
Towers – Cincinnati, Ohio
Towers, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, is accredited by the Continuing Care
Accreditation Commission (CCAC) and by the Educational Assessment
Guidelines Leading Toward Excellence (EAGLE). A state-of-the-art Wellness
Center was constructed less than three years ago as a result of residents’
request and administrations’ desire to advance their commitment to a
comprehensive wellness program. The wellness program became know as the
Wellness Connection. The Wellness Connection has been recognized for Best
Practice by both CCAC and EAGLE. PDT Architects/Planners have also been
recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and Twin Towers
Wellness Connection was selected to be published in the Design for
Aging Review Six.
wellness center facility includes a social area, check-in desk, skylit 25
meter swimming pool, spa, locker rooms, consultation areas, multi-purpose
room, integrative therapy room and strength training and cardiovascular
fitness room. Residents at Twin Towers are not charged a fee for usage of
the center. Yearly fees are applicable for employees, volunteers, family
members and outside community members.
Wellness Connection employs a staff of 6.5 FTE’s, with a membership base
of over 500 participants. Positions include a Wellness Director, Wellness
Coordinator, Programming Specialist, Operations Assistant, Fitness
Instructor, Aquatics Instructor, and a part-time Lifeguard/Instructor.
"Having the appropriate number of staff members who are knowledgeable
and qualified with the right personality is the key for a successful
center," exclaimed Monica Smith, Wellness Director.
Smith also credits the Twin Tower’s wellness management team for
continued program success. She remarked that, "The [management team]
has embraced the wellness philosophy from the onset. It is known that
Wellness is a philosophy of the organization and not just a department.
Wellness is promoted by everyone throughout the community. The management
team continues to be our best wellness ambassadors."
management team was joined by Montague, Eippert & Associates for the
planning and implementation of the project. Twin Towers received a private
donation of $1,000,000 which was earmarked for the construction of the
swimming pool. An additional donation of $500,000 was secured for the
development of this wellness philosophy. These two generous gifts made it
possible for Twin Towers to begin construction of the center to accompany
the philosophy. Donations from residents and the outside community
continue to support the programs operating expenses. This continued
financial supports helps to ensure that residents may utilize the facility
and services at no additional cost.
Twin Towers view their wellness initiative as a success? "The
Wellness Connection has transformed our retirement community. Residents
became involved in wellness activities more quickly than we ever
imagined", states Scott McQuinn, CEO/President of Twin Towers. Ms.
Smith concludes by adding, "Our success has been through the
enhancement of quality of life and whole person wellness, not necessarily
from a financial standpoint. Again, based on our outcomes, testimonials,
and number of participants in our programs, we can clearly see that
wellness does make a difference".
Heights and Gardens – Florence, Kentucky
Heights and Gardens is a Senior Living Community located in Florence,
Kentucky. Administration at Colonial Heights and Gardens decided to create
a wellness center to compliment their wellness philosophy. In fact there
are two centers, one located in independent living and one located in the
Personal Care building. The wellness centers consist of an exercise room
and activity room. Residents are able to join the wellness center at no
cost with a $15/month fee for employees. According to Laura Platz,
Wellness Educator, "The wellness center is considered to be a key
amenity [meaning it] plays an important role in keeping the apartments
full thereby creating profit for the community."
wellness staff is small but effective. Programs are coordinated by a
Wellness Director and a Wellness Educator. These two staff members work
closely with all departments to ensure that wellness is integrated into
the entire Colonial Heights and Garden community. They also coordinate and
instruct classes as well as evaluate and revise programs to continue to
meet resident needs. While the program is flourishing, Ms. Platz hopes to
eventually grow her staff.
respect to the financial success of the program, Ms. Platz remarked that
"Our community experiences financial success through our wellness
program by the means of maintaining a higher census and less medical
departures by residents. The residents experience financial success
through less usage of prescribed medicine and fewer hospital visits."
Colonial Heights and Gardens’ wellness program was not developed to
generate revenue through membership fees. Rather, it was developed to meet
the needs of current and future residents. The community administrators
consider the wellness program to be successful with each new resident
testimonial and with each new vacancy being filled. Colonial Heights and
Gardens is committed to offering the wellness program and center as a
benefit and service to their residents and staff.
Hills – Ann Arbor, Michigan
Hills Retirement Community is accredited by the Continuing Care
Accreditation Commission (CCAC) and is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Their wellness center, The Wellness Connection @ Glacier Hills, has been
in operation for approximately one year. The physical structure of The
Wellness Connection consists of a fitness room and massage therapy suite.
However, the wellness philosophy is reflected throughout the Glacier Hills
community. According to Chris Eubank, Wellness Coordinator, "We
aspire to be a ‘wellness-centered’ campus. The goal has been to
establish a campus wellness philosophy versus just having an exercise
program. We are working to have all departments and residents functioning
together in implementing our wellness concept/philosophy".
integral part of their wellness philosophy is to be inclusive and
eliminate barriers regardless of individual abilities or disabilities. To
accomplish this, The Wellness Connection is funded entirely through the
general operating budget at Glacier Hills. There are no associated fees
for staff or residents. However, a nominal fee may be charged for
specialized classes or one-on-one programs.
Wellness Connection is staffed by a full time Wellness Coordinator and a
part time Massage Therapist. In addition, Tara Gilbert is Director of
Rehabilitation and Wellness. This position is responsible for directing
the wellness philosophy/culture throughout the entire Glacier Hills’
the success of the wellness program, Mr. Eubank indicated that the
Wellness Connection established five goals in its’ first year of
operation, each of which has been met or exceeded. When asked more
specifically about the financial success of the program, he had this to
say: "We designed, implemented, and are operating our center/programs
within an established budget. We consider it a success to be able to
deliver such excellent services (based on the result of the member
surveys) without having to charge a membership fee."
Fountains of Melbourne - Melbourne, Florida
Fountains of Melbourne is a Kisco Senior Living Community located in
Melbourne, Florida. Three years ago, Kisco Senior Management, located in
Carlbad, California, made a corporate wide decision to implement a whole
person wellness philosophy in each of its communities. The Fountains is
but one example of this corporate wide wellness initiative.
wellness program at the Kisco communities is named "Healthy
Strides". The Healthy Strides wellness program was initiated by Kisco
Senior Living to address the quality of life commitment contained in their
vision, principles, values, and beliefs statement. Wellness was also
viewed as a key component in the financial performance of the Kisco
properties. This commitment to wellness has been accomplished without
added fees for any of its programming. Healthy Strides is funded through
the annual budget of each community.
Healthy Strides wellness center at the Fountains includes an outdoor pool,
exercise room and locker rooms. The staff consists of a full-time Healthy
Strides Director and Assistant Director. The wellness culture is
assimilated into all aspects of the community, therefore, the Healthy
Strides staff works in conjunction with all departments in promoting
wellness. Every department contributes to wellness at The Fountains,
according to Christine Schnitzer, Healthy Strides Director. It is easy to
see that a small Healthy Strides staff is enhanced by everyone’s
contribution to the wellness philosophy.
asked to comment on the success of the Healthy Strides program. Ms.
Schnitzer said, "Yes, very successful! In an effort to quantify our
results, Kisco contracts with a service to conduct resident, family and
associate surveys. The most recent scores in all surveys indicate our
wellness programming is above the industry average in all areas and
provides The Fountains with a competitive advantage is this arena. Also,
being recognized as the 2003 NuStep Pinnacle Award National Winner, Best
Senior Wellness Program, validated our work and efforts. Most importantly,
it is our ability to really listen to our residents regarding their needs
and concerns and then, program accordingly. Our residents’ positive
feedback provides continued proof that we are on the right track."
case studies provide further evidence that wellness programs across the
country are successful regardless of the size of the program or the number
of staff. It is also clear that a successful wellness program requires a
dedicated staff and the support of everyone in the community. This support
begins with administration and involves all departments. Each of these
programs is based on a sound wellness philosophy and involved the entire
community from the very beginning. Comprehensive wellness programming
makes a difference in the lives of everyone associated with a senior
living community. Developing a whole person wellness program is not only
the right thing to do, it is also the smart thing to do.
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