Wellness Teams Put Residents’ Interests First
A unique feature of United’s two communities is the work of the wellness teams. Meeting each week, the wellness teams are made up representatives of all departments – United Minds, nursing, food services, housekeeping, programming and fitness – to share their knowledge about individual resident’s concerns, successes, capabilities and needs, and develop approaches that can help residents improve their quality of life.
The key is that United operates under a social model rather than a medical model of care which means that they see the whole person, their interests, their personality and life history, not just their medical diagnosis. To provide a social approach means that residents are asked what they need to live well in the community. Staff then become accustomed their strengths, abilities and interests.
It’s a comprehensive formal process that creates action items, plans and ideas that also values the privacy of each resident.
“The success of the wellness teams is based on our ongoing work to get to know each resident,” said Nikki Bonsall, director of health and wellness. “Because we know the residents, everyone on the team can tell when something changes. Perhaps they aren’t eating as well as they used to, or they spend more time than usual by themselves. Often, housekeeping or serving staff will see changes in a resident’s day-to-day choices. By picking up on those small cues, members of the team can meet with the resident, and in a casual, conversational way, find out if there is anything unusual happening in their lives that we or their families should pay attention to.”
When a resident comes to live at United, a comprehensive assessment is done, which helps to understand a person’s history, lifestyle and preferences for meals and programming. As well, twice a month there are new resident transition meetings as another way for staff to help a newcomer meet new friends or enjoy new programs. While many older adult communities focus on medical care, Nikki believes United’s multidisciplinary approach to resident care is unique. At the wellness meetings, every department provides their perspective, which leads to ideas for helping to support residents.
The success of the teams’ approach has as much to do with the process as it does with resident choices. The team and the residents collaborate to help the residents live life as fully and comfortably as possible, in alignment with their choices and values, regardless of any health issues they may have.
Residents are making their own decisions about what is right for them, such as when they eat, what programs they attend, and the relationships they build. The benefit of this social approach is that it supports residents in maintaining their independence in order to have a meaningful and fulfilling life.
“Whatever condition you have, you’re still a person. Your condition shouldn’t define who you are. It’s our job to find out what you need to live a full, active life and help meet those needs,” said Nikki.
Even though residents may not be aware of the work the wellness team does, they are very receptive when a staff member engages them in a casual conversation over coffee, or introduces them to a new program or the art studio. “It’s a relationship building process that involves the whole person – their goals, lifestyle, likes and dislikes, along with their medical needs, ” said Nikki. “We want to be sure that each resident is getting the most from living at United. The wellness teams go a long way towards achieving that.”
Photos and videos by Sherana Productions.
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