How Continuity Across Multiple Levels of Care Supports Strength and Independence
Q: I understand you work closely with your community's physical therapy and rehabilitation program. How did that partnership come about?
A: The partnership started almost 10 years ago when we noticed a disconnect in our therapy discharge process. Residents were being sent home with exercise plans, but most weren't following through and doing the exercises. As a result, they would get weak, often fall, and return to therapy within months. We wanted to create a program that would keep our residents independent by giving them tools and accountability to maintain function after completing therapy.
We started our wellness program by slowly adding more fitness classes. Now, almost 10 years later, we offer over 80 classes per week on our campus including yoga, Tai Chi, ballet, aquatic kickboxing, indoor cycling, line dancing and many more!
We also created a program called "Get Fit" which is a one on one personal training program. The Get Fit plan is designed by the treating therapist (PT, OT or SLP) and carried out by one of our degreed exercise physiologist wellness teammates. Residents love that they have the option to continue working one on one with a trainer, and now, we currently have a caseload of close to 100 residents in the program.
Finally, we equipped three of our gyms with the HUR equipment so our residents are familiar with strength training equipment across each level of care.
Q: Why was adding the HUR equipment important when creating a collaborative approach to wellness?
A: The HUR equipment has become an essential part of the wellness program because now we can easily incorporate strength training into each level of care. It also ensures residents are familiar with the HUR equipment as they move between gyms. The therapists and wellness staff love the ability to start training with zero resistance as well as the functionality of the machines.
When we first installed the HUR equipment I remember seeing the look of fear in some of our residents' eyes. I could tell they were thinking, "wow this equipment is way too high tech for me." It took about 5 minutes of training before they realized how user friendly the equipment is.
"HUR machines are extremely easy to use and have done a lot to help me improve my overall strength, balance and coordination. The chest press reminds me of doing push-ups back in the days I served in the armed forces!" - Dr. Joe Roach
Q: Any success stories you could share with us?
A: Sure! A great example is Dr. Joe Roach. Joe is 96 and in August he had a fall and broke his hip. Laura, his Physical Therapist, got him using the HUR abduction/adduction machine, and over time she gradually increased the number of machines he uses during their treatment. In just those few short months, he's walking with a cane and not having any hip pain.
Another great success story is Ann Riley. Ann uses the HUR circuit several times a week. She loves that the equipment is designed for older adults and is easy on her back.
" I started strength training for the first time in my life because we have HUR equipment. Before, I was intimidated and afraid I'd do it wrong. The HUR Smart technology takes all the guesswork out and gave me the confidence to go for it. Today, I feel stronger than ever. I can even do push -ups! It's especially nice to get in a workout that targets every muscle group in just 35 minutes!" - Ann Riley
Q: It sounds like your rehab team is a crucial part of this approach to continuity as residents move across different levels of care. Were they invested in this approach from the start?
A: It didn't happen overnight, but today, our rehab and wellness teams work together like a well oiled machine. We knew for the program to work, we needed a lot of buy in from our therapy team. It was important for them to see the quality of the program and know that their patients were being discharged to an experienced, degreed wellness staff.
Upon discharge, the therapists work with each resident to design a customized wellness program. Once the wellness path is chosen, the therapist trains the Get Fit staff who will be working with that resident and ensures the right classes and resources are available. This includes setting up a strength training plan utilizing the HUR Smart Technology.
The model works both ways. We find that as life happens and circumstances change, often times our residents may require skilled therapy again. At that time, our wellness team will put in a referral for therapy and work with the rehab staff to incorporate any changes into the resident's wellness plan. Having this comprehensive, required plan for our residents keeps us all accountable and provides the tools residents need to live full and vibrant lives.