Meet Schon Alkire, Innovative Solutions Developer for LifeWell Senior Living. A problem-solver by nature, Schon wanted to understand more about the various factors that influence a community's fall rate. As he dug into the numbers, he noticed an interesting correlation between the number of visits to a community's HUR equipped fitness center and the rate of falls within that community. We sat down with Schon to find out more about his discoveries and what the information means for LifeWell communities.
Q: Tell us how you came to notice that visits to a community's fitness center might be related to the number of falls in that community?
A: Before joining LifeWell's corporate team, I was the Lifestyle Director at one of our communities. This particular community was the first to install HUR equipment, and as residents started using it, I witnessed some truly miraculous transformations. I saw residents that were told they'd never walk again get out of their wheelchairs and walk. I watched residents with Parkinson's reclaim more of their independence than they thought possible. I experienced first-hand the impact strength training on HUR equipment can have in the lives of seniors. So, when I started digging into the fall data at our communities, I wasn't surprised to see that there was a strong correlation between falls and HUR usage.
Q: How were you able to track equipment usage consistently across all LifeWell communities?
A: HUR equipment is a standard for LifeWell Senior Living. Every one of our communities has it installed in their fitness centers and is mandated to make it available to residents at least 3 days per week. Not surprisingly, in some communities, residents have demanded that it be scheduled 6-7 days per week. Through the HUR SmartTouch platform, I was able to track and analyze equipment usage data, number of workouts, and number of visitors as a percentage of census, for each community. After exporting the HUR data over a set period of time, I mapped the number of falls as a percentage of census, during that same time period. When I overlapped the two graphs, the correlation was striking.
The communities with the highest number of falls also had the lowest number of visits and visitors to the gym and vice versa. I could also see that in individual communities, when HUR equipment usage went down, the fall rate went up, and when the HUR usage went up, the falls decreased. In some communities, there was almost a 1 to 1 correlation.
I was also able to track data on an individual level and saw the same correlation. Falls don’t show up as often for residents who work out consistently. Likewise, when inconsistencies would show up in a residents’ workout track record, I would oftentimes see a fall.
"The HUR equipment is so important. It's the best way to help prevent falls in older adults. As a Lifestyle Director, I'm familiar with the connection between strength training and fall prevention. But, more importantly, I see the evidence in our residents every single day."
-Valerie Lesoon, Lifestyle Director, The Legacy at Falcon Point
Q: Why is the correlation between falls and HUR usage important information for Lifewell at the corporate level?
A: As a company, LifeWell is very focused on creating communities that champion our CAPS (Connected, Active, Purposeful, and Safe) Lifestyle for every resident. This is central to our company values and our long-term strategic vision. Our focus on multi-dimensional whole-person wellness is one of the primary ways we differentiate ourselves in the market. Strikingly, the HUR equipment touches all four aspects of our philosophy. It not only keeps people physically active, but it is also a social time where residents make connections with one another as they encourage each other to keep going! When residents are physically stronger, they are more mobile and have improved balance. They get out and do more and are able to participate in purposeful activities. And lastly, HUR workouts reduce the risk of falls and keep residents physically safer. I have seen it time and time again, where residents are a little intimidated by the equipment at first glance.
However, because the HUR SmartTouch technology is so easy to use, guides residents through their personal training programs, automatically adjusts to their specifications, and tracks training progress over time, residents keep coming! As well, the equipment is very inclusive. Some of the equipment is wheelchair accessible, and zero starting load means that people of all ages and ability levels can use the equipment. HUR equipment is not just for those who are already in good health.
I cannot say enough good things about HUR and what the equipment has meant to the lives of our residents. There is no greater reward than having a resident come up to you tell you how much better they are feeling and getting around.
"The HUR Equipment has made me a lot stronger from the time I moved in. I can walk now and I owe it to the fitness center. My overall health has improved as well."
~Clyde, Resident at The Legacy at South Plains
Q: How are you planning to use the data about falls and HUR equipment usage moving forward?
A: In conversations with our communities’ Executive Directors, Health and Wellness Directors, Resident Services Coordinators, and Lifestyle Directors, we’ve already begun to use this data to hammer home the importance of getting residents into the gym and set up on the HUR equipment. We know that getting them in the door the first time is the biggest hurdle. So, we are moving toward making it part of our onboarding process for new residents. Once residents understand how fun, easy, and non-intimidating the equipment is, they’re hooked. They soon start feeling better, and in many cases, they are able to do things they haven’t been able to do in years. So, our top priority is to support each community’s efforts to get residents into the gym.
For us, one of the ways we help motivate residents to strength train is by connecting it to purpose. All our communities work hard to know every resident and discover what gives them a sense of purpose. For example, one community invested in several sewing machines because some of their residents wanted to start a quilting club so that they could make quilts to donate to a children’s hospital. If we can help residents make that connection between their physical health and their ability to engage in these types of purposeful activities, it’s a win-win situation for everyone.