In recent years building 'Wellness Cultures' in Senior communities has received much attention, and the benefits of adopting what has come to be known as a 'wellness lifestyle' has been confirmed and reconfirmed from a wide variety of 'evidence-based' research. There can be little doubt that for senior residential and retirement communities wellness cultures, appropriately designed and developed, can elicit a whole range of lifestyle, health and even economic benefits for the facility, the facility residents and the facility staff.

Wellness, however is not just about 'exercising', 'eating right' or taking your medications. It is also, in its fullest expression, not a single program, or even a collection of separate programs. Wellness is actually a very broad and somewhat indefinable concept which can be thought of as a journey rather than a destination, a process rather than a product. It is also often described as consisting a number of diverse but linked 'dimensions', including physical, emotional, social, vocational, spiritual and intellectual. I will be writing more about these later but suffice to say that when these dimensions are appropriately implemented, merged and developed, a comprehensive evidence-based Wellness 'Program' evolves into a Wellness 'Culture', something that becomes an integral and positive part of the community in which it resides.

For any successful senior residential facility manager, resident quality of life is surely at the top of their goals list. Increased quality of life means greater resident satisfaction, morale and consequently less resident turnover (plus, it makes management both feel and look good!). From a 'bottom line' perspective, a successfully implemented, values-based wellness program will reduce operating costs, reduce health care costs and be a major PR focus for attracting new residents. 

Quality of life is the key to a successful community

Quality of life however depends on more than just bricks and mortar, more than providing fine accommodation, meals and services - it even depends on more than good health care provision, which traditionally has a 'deficit-based' or reactive approach to health (reduce the bad stuff). Our Intrinsic WellnessTM approach however is founded on an 'asset based' or 'proactive' philosophy (increase the good stuff). It is build, developed and guided in great part on participants choosing and becoming involved in activities that are important to them, that are intrinsically meaningful to them, and in which they have 'ownership'. I well remember many years ago as a young man being 'the wellness bloke' (it was in the UK and they use strange words like 'bloke' over there. In the US I would have been 'the wellness guy'). Anyway to continue with my story - I would go into the facility or residence, do my 'wellness program' (usually an exercise class of some kind) and then leave - taking my wellness with me! Before my arrival - and after my departure - things went on much as they did before!

These days the awareness of wellness is certainly much greater (as, I am glad to tell you, is mine!), but it is still a word - and an approach much misunderstood and I could say also, much maligned, or at least underestimated. For example, I have experienced 'wellness programs' that consist only of medically oriented activities such as blood pressure screenings, or 'taking your medication' or simply regular medical checkups. Or wellness programs that consist only of 'brown bag' talks on various aspects of health. Of course these factors are important - but are not of themselves the whole of wellness or of a wellness culture. True wellness is determined by the informed choices or decisions a person makes about how they live their lives with vitality, meaning and purpose.

A successful intrinsically derived wellness culture appropriately integrated into a senior community can offer these choices to residents, and management alike. This will enable the community to become a place where quality of life is enhanced, a place of rejuvenation rather than a place where the attitude is one of 'making the best of things', of inevitable decline and deterioration. In effect a true wellness approach is integral to the community rather than simply a 'program' that consists of set classes conducted at set times. Our philosophy is to cooperatively partner with facility management, residents and staff so that we can collaboratively initiate and develop a wellness culture that becomes part of the fabric of their community, and that they, too are a part of. 

For more details of wellness culture development click on the phone or email link at the bottom of this page or contact Dr. Phillips

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