Becky Anhorn, Meadowood’s fitness & wellness director, sat down and shared her thoughts on how the team is finding creative ways to engage residents during the coronavirus crisis.
How is Meadowood handling wellness differently than other communities right now?
In talking to people from other senior communities, it seems that a lot of them just shut down the programs, and they’re just redistributing their staff to other areas of the community or focusing on the bare essentials. We aren’t going to do that. If we’re committing to the philosophy of the six dimensions of wellness, it’s important to us to provide them under all circumstances.
Meadowood is supporting us in continuing to keep people out of isolation. If you’re inside your house, how is that going to affect you emotionally? Engagement is our number one priority.
How are you helping residents stay healthy while maintaining social distancing?
To get people outside, we’re hosting daily fitness classes in five different locations in courtyards of residents’ homes. People can just walk outside their door and exercise right there in their own backyard while supporting one another from a distance.
We probably have more people attending these classes than we do on a regular day in our fitness studios. Because we’re bringing the routines to the people, they’re participating even more.
How are you providing wellness in higher levels of care?
Whatever we’re doing for the Independent Living residents, we’ve modified for the Personal Care and Health Center residents. For instance, our virtual classes have both standing and seated versions of each exercise.
Another thing that we’re providing is hallway exercises. Residents just come out and take a seat outside their room, and we stand at the top of the hallway and do a stretch and exercise routine for them. Sometimes it turns into a hallway dance party! The social piece of it is so important as well.
Are you providing any virtual wellness classes?
Yes, my staff and I have created our own exercise videos, posted on the intranet, that residents can access anytime, and we livestream classes — such as dance fitness, yoga, tai chi, Pilates and brain health — to our in-house TV channel.
Do you still offer personal training?
Yes, we offer mobile personal training and virtual wellness coaching. We still want to provide that one-on-one connection, whether it’s through a phone call or wellness visit — that’s the emotional piece of wellness.
How are you addressing the spiritual component of wellness?
We offer a once-daily guided meditation out in our wellness courtyard as well as twice daily wellness walks around the campus. Other spiritual activities include livestreaming our chaplain delivering the Friday ecumenical service, as well as livestreaming rosary and hymn sing.
Do you have any wellness support for staff during the crisis?
We’ve been posting videos on the staff Facebook Page with workouts people can do at home or in the office, and we’re offering virtual personal training. We’re also checking in on team members with positive encouragement and giving out healthy snacks for all shifts.
Are there other ideas you’re considering implementing during the crisis?
Our wellness efforts are constantly evolving. We’re moving into all of these new activities, and we still feel like it’s only the tip of the iceberg. Next week, we could be doing five new things that we aren’t doing this week.
How has the coronavirus made you think differently about wellness?
As a team, we believe that peoples’ emotional, spiritual and physical health are important all the time, so we’re kind of prepared for this — we’ve already been making wellness a priority on a daily basis. At a time like this, where you’re mandated to isolate, and there’s a lack of accessibility, it forces us in the fitness & wellness industry to think differently.
This generation is not used to iPhones and technology, so it’s a challenge to engage them –– it’s putting our creative minds together to think at a more rapid pace than we had been before. We’re coming up with some creative initiatives that I think we want to keep after this crisis is over.
Any advice to those who are caring for others?
This is my mantra: “You need to take of yourselves before you take care of everyone else.” It’s about leading by example. Taking care of myself is being an example to the team and residents. I have to know where my limits are sometimes. I tend to go, go, go, then hit a wall. I need to know when enough is enough.
Strategic leadership is really doing an amazing job guiding the residents, but they need to take a day off once in awhile. It’s hard for some of us workaholics. We’re trying our best in very unusual circumstances.