Approximately three years ago Blakeford began our journey of re-evaluating our entire Wellness and Life Enrichment opportunities. We realized that if we were to truly fulfill the mission what we were doing was not enough. We wanted to be better than average. We wanted to exceed expectations and truly fulfill the mission of our organization and be the “premier provider” of lifestyle and services.
Where Did We Begin?
We have all heard these terms thrown around in the aging services field quite often – “whole person”, “holistic lifestyle”, and “person centered care”. It is easy to use these terms in glossy marketing brochures and a website, but were we really doing it? We realized that we were just scratching the surface of this with our lifestyle offerings at that point and it needed to be more than words and pretty, glossy photos. We had to be more than a provider of housing and services. We also recognized that the wellness of our team members was just as crucial. Although it would have been nice to have all the answers in our back pocket, we quickly recognized that we needed additional guidance and resources. We began by identifying others in the field both locally and nationally who could offer us insight into the assessment and development of our initiatives. Research and education were also vital. I gained valuable knowledge through trade associations such as International Council on Active Aging, American Society on Aging, LeadingAge’s National Wellness and Life Enrichment listserv, and several other webinars and seminars that I participated in.
Putting It Into Action
We decided to create our own brand and philosophy of Wellness and Life Enrichment called WellLife at Blakeford that focuses on six dimensions of wellness – Engage, Thrive, Enlighten, Embrace, Connect, and Inspire. With the brand established, we then spent time identifying our biggest opportunities as it related to the vision of WellLife. We had to answer several important questions and gather feedback.
- What did Blakeford’s community want and need?
- What we were already doing well?
- Which dimensions of wellness could we impact the most if we were able to allocate resources and development time into them?
We identified two dimensions that needed our immediate focus – THRIVE Wellness (physical) and INSPIRE Wellness (Spiritual).
THRIVE Wellness was first on the list. At the time, we were contracting out with a company for our group fitness classes. Our offerings were limited and although the instructors had a relationship established with the group of residents who routinely participated, it didn’t speak to the ongoing needs and resources that we felt our residents needed to have if we were going to truly affect their overall wellness and change our culture. It also didn’t speak to the needs of our team members.
The first relationship we established was with a Wellness Consultant. Tomas Mendez from Franke at Seaside, a CCRC in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina had been key in developing BeWell, their corporation’s wellness philosophy. With his help, we began setting goals and taking our first steps. With limited space and a small Wellness Center we knew that the person who would come on board to lead these initiatives would have to be creative, resourceful and motivated in order for us to take this to the next level. Thankfully, we were able to recruit a vibrant Wellness Coordinator, Samantha Ruppelt who specialized in our demographic who was also able to successfully push past these space limitations. After two and a half years of development, education to our residents, team members and Board of Directors, intentional commitment of resources and time, Blakeford’s THRIVE Wellness program has changed lives and has changed the culture of our community.
Stay tuned for future posts about what these dimensions look like in action! Click here for more information about WellLife at Blakeford.
Holli Passmore, CASP, serves as the Administrator of Independent Living Services and Director of Wellness and Life Enrichment. Her responsibilities include managing the independent living community and overseeing its daily operations. As Director of Wellness and Life Enrichment, she works closely with the community’s Life Enrichment and Wellness team to develop and implement WellLife at Blakeford, which provides residents the platform to maintain optimum well-being based on the six dimensions of wellness.