"Senior living started more as a hospitality model," said Kim Elliott, RN, MSN, senior vice president of Clinical Services for Brookdale Senior Living. "Today, we're caring for a higher acuity resident with more chronic conditions."
Elliott was quick to note that housing options continue to offer many hospitality-influenced amenities and activities. However, many of today's residents need more in terms of care management and health and wellness options in order to allow them to more fully enjoy what their senior living community offers.
Elliott said Brookdale has taken a population health approach, frequently aligning with physician partners, particularly to drive preventive care. For example, she noted, "We do offer immunization clinics. We protect our residents from flu, shingles and pneumonia."
Similarly, residential communities will bring in providers to help with diabetes, COPD or other chronic care management and often coordinate with physicians for on-site well visits. "We want to surround our residents with the care and services they need. That collaborative approach continues to strengthen," she explained, adding this increased focus on collaboration with community providers is a new direction for the senior health industry.
"Every community has a health and wellness director," Elliott said of a licensed nurse who drives programming for a specific community. However, she continued, that person isn't on an island but instead has support tools and resources from the corporate level.
As a company, Elliott said Brookdale has adopted a holistic approach to care through the Optimum Life program. "It's the six dimensions of wellness - not only their physical health, but we look at their social, we look at their spiritual, intellectual, purposeful and emotional health," she said. "It's a whole person view."
The foundation of the Optimal Life program is to maximize functional abilities through a variety of activities. Under that umbrella, one popular option is the Fitness B-Fit program, which draws on research and guidelines to incorporate elements of Tai-chi with movements that challenge the brain and meditative relaxation to exercise body, mind and spirit.
Elliott noted that even though Brookdale is increasingly focused on population health and outcomes of the larger group, that doesn't mean classes and activities are customized to meet residents where they are. "It's very much a personalized approach," she noted.
Increasing the focus on health and wellness and partnering with providers ... both on-site and in the community ... is a win/win/win, said Elliott. For providers, she said it lets them know their patients are being supported in chronic condition management or preventive health measures between appointments. For residents, they have increased access to resources and expertise without having to leave the community. For Brookdale, the approach increases client satisfaction and maximizes the opportunity for residents to live their best life.
"As the residents continue to evolve, we continue to evolve with them in the care and services we provide. It's a holistic approach that nurtures every aspect of their lives," Elliott concluded.