Friday, August 24, 2007

Innovation is the Word of the Day

While many are busy criticizing senior care providers for perceived problems – and certainly, there are companies and communities that do have significant problems – what isn’t getting as much attention is the innovation in services that many providers are implementing. These innovations are designed not only to meet the expressed needs of today’s seniors (mental stimulation, life-long learning are at the top of the list) but also to improve the public’s perception of senior care and improve overall services.

Consider what Atria, subject of many negative news stories (and my last blog) is doing in its Burlington assisted living community, incorporating Nintendo’s Wii video game into community activities:

The Nintendo Wii is not only for the young, but the young at heart," said Zappala [the community’s Executive Director] via e-mail. "Those who participate are not only staying physically active, but mentally active as well. The Wii stimulates their mind by incorporating a significant level of hand and eye coordination.

Then there’s the community in Canada that is actually growing grass on the roof:

Shalom Manor and Shalom Gardens, a linked Dutch-Christian nursing home and assisted-living facility, is going green, with a rooftop revamp. The facility has decided to transform its bland grey asphalt roof into a lush, year-round scenic piece of nature, with more than 3,000 square metres of garden.”

The point is both esthetic (more than half of the resident’s view was of the old, flat roof) as well as environmental. Both management and residents like the idea of doing something that enhances the environment in many respects.

Ecumen is in the news again with a program especially designed to promote senior wellness – both in the residential community and in the community at large. More importantly, staff are also welcome to use the fitness equipment, mingling with residents and guests as they improve their own physical wellbeing.

Vitalize! Wellness Centre, opening this fall , will have all the bells and whistles . . . TechnoGym weights and TechnoGym aerobic fitness equipment that digitally measure one’s personal progress, a warm-water lap pool, a warm water pool with a treadmill, herbal teas and great food, exercise rooms, massage, plus classrooms for lifelong learning that helps people explore, personalize and enhance dimensions of successful aging.
The point of all of this innovation is to keep pace with what seniors are looking for in their aging experience – a chance to keep living vital, involved lives right through the end of their days.

Senior care communities that want to stay in the news in a good way – and more importantly, meet the rapidly changing needs of their target market – should listen, learn and innovate!

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