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Eaton is Passionate About Wellness

At Eaton Senior Communities, we are passionate about wellness!  In 2015, Eaton was awarded a $50,000 grant to establish a replicable framework for providing wellness coaching interns to individuals living in affordable housing.  The grant work really took off and Eaton became curious about measuring the impact of wellness coaching on residents’ lives. 

Last year, Eaton received a $10,000 grant from The Colorado Health Foundation to gather and interpret data to measure the effects of wellness coaching.  Early this year, Eaton received another $10,000 grant from The Comprecare Fund at The Denver Foundation to assist in completing this research project and revise the replicable framework, as needed. 

During the past spring semester, three healthcare management interns from Metropolitan State University of Denver, overseen by Dr. Bobbie Kite, spent time shadowing staff at Eaton in order to map the data collection points.  Over the summer, another round of interns from both MSU Denver and the University of Denver are working on entering and interpreting the data. 

Eaton has ample anecdotal evidence of the positive impact that wellness coaching makes on individuals’ lives.  Whether it is losing weight, adjusting to a new community or gaining strength, wellness coaches have helped our residents feel empowered to meet their goals.

In addition, Eaton has seen the enormous impact that the internship experience can make on an intern’s career path.  One of Eaton’s interns from the past semester received a job offer immediately after graduation to launch a wellness coaching program within a pain management clinic.  Thanks to her experience at her Eaton internship, she was already highly qualified and ready for the position.  Stay tuned to hear the results of our wellness coaching study over the next year!

Life at Eaton by Janet Thompson, Resident

When I was apartment hunting five years ago, I asked four people in Eaton’s lobby, “What do you like best about living here?”  From each one, I got a positive response. My cat and I have been mighty happy at Eaton since moving in.

In my view, the best asset is our staff, and they all seem to remember our names.  Eaton is locally-owned, which makes a huge difference, and the most important reason I chose to live here. We have a foundation which seeks grants and donations to help residents, such as having a full-time nurse and upgrading the property inside and out. Our nurse is so eager and clever; she arranges all manner of health seminars with speakers and other professionals, such as immunization clinics and a veterinarian who visits. Students from Metro State University intern here for part of their school requirements.

Another highlight is having a church on-site and its compassionate, caring folks.  When I have gone through difficult times they have put me in touch with professional counselors – in my apartment! I haven’t even needed to leave the property.

When we have special events, the dining staff goes all-out to treat us to epicurean, luscious and exciting goodies. In the last year I’ve been a bit of a hermit with depression. Being able to “order up” my meals has kept me going, helping me take care of my cat.

When I don’t feel up to facing the public, I stay occupied by reading four to six books a week. If I run out of books from the library at The Residences, there is the library next door to start on. If I get bored or lonely, there are cards, bingo, coloring, crafts, art and trips to restaurants, Aspen leaves, Christmas lights and more, using our bus. Our driver is skilled and comical. In the summer, our resident gardeners raise mighty good stuff!

We are blessed with many volunteers.  They arrange special events, parties, and Saturday potlucks. I am one of the volunteers, periodically interviewing and writing biographies of our residents.

Obviously, I’m mighty happy here, including when I’m a hermit. Newcomers and sometimes happy old-timers may reckon I‘m a newcomer, too.

Wellness Coaching at Eaton Senior Communities

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In partnership with Metropolitan State University (MSU) of Denver, a wellness coaching program at Eaton Senior Communities is helping wellness coach interns practice their profession while senior residents of Eaton’s communities improve their health and wellness.

Late last year, the Residences at Eaton Senior Communities received a $50,000 grant from LeadingAge’s Innovations Fund to create a replicable model for other affordable housing providers to establish a partnership with an institution of higher learning in order to offer this same service to their senior residents. The template will include toolkits for interns and housing providers, with intern recruiting videos and handbooks with step-by-step instructions to make the partnership successful. It will be available later this year, at no charge, to interested parties.

In addition to funding from LeadingAges’s Innovations Fund, Eaton was recently awarded a $10,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation to measure the effectiveness of wellness coaching on resident health outcomes. This grant will enhance Eaton’s promotion of wellness coaching in affordable housing settings across the United States, and the program is already showing positive outcomes.

Eaton residents participating in the program have reported that the coaching is dramatically changing their lives. The student interns, supervised by Eaton staff, are also impacted by their coaching experience at Eaton and several have changed their study focus to aging services.

Dr. Bobbie Kite has been hired to administer the most recent grant and establish scientifically-based analysis methods. She will work with graduate students from MSU of Denver, recognized nationally as a leader in wellness coaching, to complete this project. 

Meet ESC’s Resident Services Coordinator

kate_westWhat is a service coordinator? Service coordinators help save taxpayer dollars by connecting low-income people to vital supportive services. Some of these services, helping seniors maintain their independence, include in-home care, rent subsidies and food stamps. According to the American Association of Services Coordinators, the cost of these services plus a share of the service coordinator’s salary cost approximately $2,200 monthly. Let’s assume the average nursing home costs $6,500 monthly. This means that by providing supportive services to seniors in lieu of moving to a nursing home to obtain the same services, taxpayers save around $4,300 per month.

Eaton Senior Communities has had a service coordinator on-site for many years. In June 2015, Kate West joined Eaton as the ‘Resident Services Coordinator.’ She graduated from Metropolitan State University in May 2015 with a degree in “Program Coordination for Integrative Health.” Kate had previously interned with Eaton Senior Communities in 2014 and fell in the love with the community.

So, what does Kate do? The Resident Services Coordinator acts as a referral source to help individuals meet their needs in an independent setting. From the get-go, the Resident Services Coordinator establishes a relationship with residents during the prospective tenant home visit. Once the resident moves to Eaton, the Resident Services Coordinator completes a Vitalize 360 wellness assessment in order to get to know the resident and his or her needs. At this time, a care consultation plan is developed to address any outstanding needs.

Beyond the initial move-in process, the Resident Services Coordinator also assists with any issues that may arise throughout the resident’s time here. Whether they need assistance with finding grant funding for unexpected medical bills or help with understanding their benefit programs, the Resident Services Coordinator spends ample time addressing these issues in one-on-one appointments with the residents.

A large part of the Resident Services Coordinator’s role revolves around benefit and entitlement programs. Navigating Medicare, Medicaid and low-income subsidy programs is crucial to accessing supportive services. By educating residents about these programs, the Resident Services Coordinator strives to provide as many resources to Eaton’s residents as possible.

The Resident Services Coordinator also designed a website to act as a resource guide for residents so that they are able to get a brief overview of the resources available to them at Eaton. You can visit the website at http://residents.eatonsenior.org in order to view the resources and programs that the Service Coordinator frequently draws upon.

The Residences at ESC is the recipient of the 2015 LeadingAge Innovations Fund Grant

Eaton Senior Communities is proud to announce that it is the recipient of the 2015 LeadingAge Innovations Fund Grant for Addressing Wellness Programs in Affordable Senior Housing Settings.

The LeadingAge Innovations Fund seeks to catalyze innovation among nonprofit providers of aging services by awarding grants for programs that promise to have a demonstrable impact on residents, clients, families, employees, or the broader community.

The Residences at Eaton Senior Communities (ESC) offers individual wellness coaching and has a Metropolitan State University of Denver student intern provide the coaching. The $50,000 grant will assist ESC to increase the number of wellness coach interns at ESC and create a replicable framework for establishing and maintaining the affordable housing/higher education institution partnership. This framework’s goal is to improve residents’ lives through wellness coaching while attracting talent to the field of aging services.

Highlighting ESC’s Wellness Partners: Pro Active Podiatry

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According to the American Podiatric Medical Association, most Americans log an amazing 75,000 miles on their feet by the time they reach age 50. With proper detection, intervention, and care, most foot and ankle problems ranging from arthritis, muscle and tendon problems or joint and nerve disorders can be lessened or prevented. Dr. Kay Vaikayee and Dr. Eric Steen, the husband-and-wife team of Pro Active Podiatry, graduated from podiatry school in 2002 and 2003 respectively and have been serving the residents of Eaton Senior Communities since November 2014.

Both Dr. Vaikayee and Dr. Steen served in the military, partly for residency training, which is where they met. Dr. Steen earned his Doctorate in Podiatric Medicine from the College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery at Des Moines University and returned to Active Duty for residency training. In 2006, he continued his service as a Podiatric Surgeon at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Landstuhl Germany. Dr. Vaikayee earned her Doctorate in Podiatric Medicine from Barry University. In 2008, she left Active Duty to join her husband and was able to continue her service with the Department of the Army as a civilian employee at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, treating wounded service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the soldiers and family members stationed in Europe.

In September 2014, Dr. Vaikayee and Dr. Steen moved to Denver from Dallas to be closer to family and relocated their podiatric practice. With an emphasis on providing home services as well as services in assisted living and independent living facilities, Pro Active Podiatry developed their first local facility relationship with Eaton Senior Communities. According to Dr. Steen, “Our patients often have limited mobility or challenges in trying to get out of the house. I would like to think we are making some positive impacts on people’s comfort and mobility.” Pro Active Podiatry has 10 long term care facilities that they visit on a regular basis in addition to the individual house calls, independent living facilities and office patients.

On average, Pro Active Podiatry treats an average of 23 patients per month, which includes ESC residents, staff and family members. “Eaton was one of the first facilities to invite us in, and we have Sarah, Eaton’s Wellness Director, to thank for that,” states Dr. Vaikayee. “It has been and continues to be a friendly, comfortable environment to work in, with pleasant and appreciative patients. For us there have been no negatives. I think it would be fair to say that we enjoy a visit to Eaton more than any of the other communities we work in.”

Highlighting ESC’s Wellness Partners: Friendly Pet Visits

Mary, ESC resident, visits with Nissa

Mary, ESC resident, visits with Nissa

There is plenty of research that points to the benefits of human and pet interactions. It’s been known to lower blood pressure and pulse rate, decrease visits to the doctor, lessen depression, and ease loneliness. Carol Rossini discovered the positive effects when she took her dog, Nissa, to the hospital to visit her ill husband. Nissa cuddled with him in the bed, and they were overjoyed to see each other again. Her husband’s joy that day made her realize the impact Nissa could have on other people.

Two years later, Carol began bringing Nissa with her to visit people from her church who were in rehab centers, assisted living and hospice. Each time, Nissa was excited to walk into the facility and into someone’s room, but she calmed down quickly as people would pet her, watch her do tricks and reminisce about their dogs. This led to Carol enrolling Nissa in therapy dog training. Nissa had to greet strangers, not react to strange dogs, walk through a group of people who were using wheelchairs or walkers, and recover quickly after hearing loud noises. Carol was trained to pay attention to Nissa, keep her under control, and gauge her reactions, all while carrying on a conversation and being sociable.

Once Nissa became certified as a therapy pet, Carol continued visiting people from church and searching out volunteer opportunities. During her search, Carol found Eaton Senior Communities and was impressed with Eaton’s cheerfulness, cleanliness and friendliness. Carol found it a good match so she and Nissa began to visit Eaton. On one particular occasion, a resident sat down right next to Carol on the couch even though other chairs were available. She looked at Nissa and quietly said “Shake?” Nissa put up her paw and a big grin broke out on the woman’s face. As Carol has gotten to know other residents, they also enjoy making Nissa do tricks and then rewarding her with Milk Bones when she gets them right. Conversation with residents includes talking to people about their dogs, about their years growing up, their families, their favorite foods and music and books, their crafts, or just about anything else – all because Carol has a dog to break the ice.

The Eaton staff have even benefited from Carol and Nissa’s visits, with staff stocking dog treats in their offices as an excuse to have their own pet therapy visits. This led to Carol developing relationships with staff and an invitation for Carol to join Eaton’s Caring Connection team, which entails Carol visiting Eaton residents in-house and out in the community in rehab centers, hospitals, etc.

Carol says, “What do therapy dogs do? They make connections between people, show their love, calm, and entertain. Nissa’s and my lives without Eaton would be far less rich without all the many wonderful people there. My initial impression of its being a wonderful place hasn’t dimmed at all during the year and a half that we have been visiting, and I consider it a privilege to be part of the Eaton community.”

Highlighting ESC’s Wellness Partners: Nate Mohler, Acupuncturist, Taijiquan Instructor

According to the president of the American Holistic Health Association, Suzan Walker, MBA, “Holistic Health is an approach to life…the ancient approach to health considers the whole person and how he/she interacts with his or her environment. It emphasizes the connection of mind, body and spirit.” Nate Mohler, ESC’s Tai Chi instructor and acupuncturist, epitomizes this connection as he strives to help our residents find that balance in their lives.

In 2001, Nate was introduced to Taijiquan, or Tai Chi, which is actually a martial art. Here in the western hemisphere, it is known and taught mostly as a health exercise. Prior to that, he studied karate for ten years and his sensei taught him some “healing tricks”; mostly stretching and massage techniques. In 2003, Nate graduated as an acupuncturist, which was an extension of his interest in eastern philosophy and practices such as martial arts, Zen philosophy and Taoist philosophy. After graduation, Nate opened an acupuncture practice and has been purposeful in instructing Tai Chi and Karate as part of his life.

A relocation from Florida to Colorado in 2011 brought Nate to ESC as a Tai Chi instructor. He hosts onsite classes twice a week for ESC Wellness Program members. Nate has a dedicated group of residents who attend his classes, several of whom attribute their better balance and strength to Tai Chi. This low impact exercise has a calming effect, which is great for reducing stress.

Once ESC staff discovered that Nate is also an acupuncturist, he was encouraged to introduce the practice to ESC’s residents. It was slow to catch on, so after another round of resident education and strong support from ESC’s Wellness Director, group acupuncture has become a regular event on the life enrichment calendar. Reported benefits of acupuncture include vast improvements in neuropathy of the feet, relief of pain from fibromyalgia and relief from various other aches and pains. Both staff and residents participate in Nate’s group acupuncture events.

In addition to his ESC clients, Nate teaches acupuncture at two colleges and visits clients in their homes, as well as recently returning to school himself. According to Nate, “I have really enjoyed developing friendships with the residents at ESC over the last few years. I very much enjoy my time at ESC; so much so that I actively schedule my other endeavors around the days that I am there, due to the fact that the other people I see there, both residents and employees, are so pleasant to be around and full of smiles. The residents that participate regularly in Tai Chi and in acupuncture are so friendly and easy to be around.”

Highlighting ESC’s Wellness Partners: Lifesource Health Partners

The addition of massage therapy to ESC’s wellness program has proven to be one of the most popular services offered to residents and staff. ESC’s massage therapist, Jenny Nickerson with Lifesource Health Partners, transitioned into massage therapy around 3 ½ years ago. Prior to that, she spent over 25 years in both clinical and administrative healthcare – first as a registered nurse, then moving on to hospital administration and eventually healthcare policy.

As a registered nurse, Jenny’s first position was in a Medical Intensive Care Unit. She was fortunate to have a mentor who taught her the importance of evening care for the patients, which included a back rub and range of motion of joints. She learned the value of touch in helping patients to manage their pain, to sleep better and also to help deal with incredibly stressful situations while they were in the ICU. Each person deserves compassion and dignity while going through each individual experience. That valuable lesson has stayed with her all of these years and had the greatest influence on her in deciding to become a medical massage therapist.

Jenny “was in the right place at the right time” when she looked into serving clients at ESC. Years ago, she had briefly met the massage therapist who was at ESC before her. Several years later, they met again when they were specializing in sports certification for massage therapy. In getting to know each other, they began talking about their mutual passion for senior care. Due to some unexpected personal issues, ESC’s massage therapist had to step away and she asked Jenny if she would be open to providing massage care at ESC. That was May 2013. To this day, Jenny states “I am so appreciative that she asked me. I often say that the day I go to ESC is my favorite day of the week.”

Regarding her practice at ESC, Jenny states “My hope is that residents have a positive experience with medical massage therapy and reflexology. That may show up as pain relief, or increased mobility or feeling better emotionally. I see wellness as a partnership between myself and each resident who comes to see me for care. It is a privilege to help contribute to one’s health and wellness. ESC is a special place. Every time I walk through the doors at ESC, I feel a palpable warmth and compassion from the residents, staff and wellness partners. The commitment on behalf of ESC to make services convenient and available for residents embodies an environment of wellness and caring. I am honored to partner with ESC.”

One of Jenny’s professional goals for 2015 is to work at another affordable housing community, in addition to ESC. She is currently adjusting her private practice schedule so that she can take this next step.

Highlighting ESC’s Wellness Partners: Senior Reach

Supporting older adults’ health and wellness is a priority at Eaton Senior Communities. In considering all of the dimensions of wellness, emotional wellness is especially important in later life as seniors experience loss and transition. Through ESC’s partnership with HealthSET, our residents have access to Senior Reach, a preventive community program founded in 2005 that identifies older adults who may need emotional or physical support and/or connection to community services. Senior Reach’s sponsors include Mental Health Partners, Jefferson Center for Mental Health, and Seniors’ Resource Center.

To qualify for Senior Reach’s services, a person must be over the age of 60 and live within an independent setting in the Colorado counties served. Senior Reach’s services are strengths-based and person-centered and average around 10 sessions per client. This program targets seniors who do not seek services on their own behalf, but are referred by others who are concerned about the older adult. In affordable housing, services include home-based mental health services, coordinated care management, coaching around wellness issues/drug use and misuse, depression screening, and grief support. Senior Reach is an evidence-based program that measures outcomes through a process of baseline and follow-up screens. Proven outcomes include reduction in depression, social isolation, and emotional disturbance plus increased activities with others with improved level of functioning and optimism about future outcomes.

Senior Reach focuses on providing wellness classes at no cost to ensure access for residents of affordable housing communities. Since its start seven years ago, Senior Reach has offered classes at seven affordable housing communities as well as senior centers and senior meal sites. Teresa Legault, Senior Reach Program Manager, states, “By providing wellness classes that have a behavioral health focus at senior residences, we have been able to open a new entry door for seniors into support services like Senior Reach and HealthSET. This project has been enriched by the true partnership between Eaton Senior Communities, HealthSET and Senior Reach to make it work and be as successful as it is. Each entity carries its own weight; the partnership has helped to reduce the stigma that many seniors have to accessing behavioral health services, and sometime physical health services. Our partnership with ESC has been the most successful due to their willingness and ability to communicate with residents—residents have a voice, feel heard and they trust the ESC staff.”