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  1. 1. A Whole-Person Approach to Health and Wellness Message from the President EmpowerU: A Powerful, Proven Path to Wellness Tools to Engage, Educate & Evolve Empowering Residents in Body, Mind, and Spirit Associate Spotlight: Chandra Santiago, Wellness Director Our Food Rules In the Garden State Executive Chef John Branella and Director of Dining Services John Kennedy,The Evergreens THE MORRISON WAYSEPTEMBER 2013, ISSUE 4
  2. 2. A MESSAGE FROM THE PRESIDENT There’s an extraordinary thing happening within senior living communities. Residents are taking charge of their lives, taking care of their bodies and taking a keen interest in every aspect of their wellbeing—from fitness to nutrition, spirituality, education, environmental awareness, community and beyond. Today’s senior living residents want choice, flexibility and control. They are engaged and empowered; they ask questions, do their homework and approach their “golden years” as an opportunity to continue to grow and live life to the fullest. It’s not so different for us at Morrison Senior Living; we are always looking for ways to innovate and improve. For many years now, in partnership with our communities and other experts, we have been studying the changing wants and needs of our elders. As part of that, Morrison has expanded the services we provide to our communities to include an enhanced experience that addresses resident as individuals and as a whole person—mind, body and spirit. In this issue, you’ll learn how our EmpowerU program is helping residents in two communities of St. Peter’s Health Partners, live lives that are active and well. Our Associate Spotlight shines on Wellness Director Chandra Santiago, whose passion for inspiring wellness is leading to increased independence and true empowerment for residents. Last, we visit the Garden State, where Executive Chef John Branella and Director of Dining Services John Kennedy are putting Our Food Rules into practice. The Evergeens is cooking up fresh, flavorful and healthy food that nourishes body and soul. Thanks for joining us, and thank you for partnering with Morrison to empower your own growth and wellness! Kevin Svagdis, President Morrison Senior Living
  3. 3. Nearly a year ago, in September 2012, Morrison Senior Living and Glen Eddy partnered to launch the pilot program of EmpowerU for residents of this full-service independent senior living community in Niskayuna, NY. At that time, 50 percent of residents attended a series of resident forums and participated in functional assessments and lifestyle surveys that were used to design and develop the classes that would be offered. Today, 74 percent of residents at Glen Eddy participate in the EmpowerU program. A similar program, tailored and launched specifically for sister community Hawthorne Ridge this July, has nearly 90 percent participation. The program will be rolled out to other communities over the coming year. But the numbers only tell part of the story. “There have been so many individual success stories,” said Chandra Santiago, Wellness Director. “One person in particular was in a wheelchair. She’s been able to get out of her wheelchair and now walk and put her clothes on without a support system. Another resident was using a walker, then went from a walker to a cane, and now she doesn’t use anything at all and she’s in class every day.” EmpowerU creates a vibrant culture of wellness in the community in three distinct ways. It engages through a series of functional assessments and lifestyle surveys; it educates through lectures and interactive experiences; and it helps residents evolve through a positive mind and body connection. EMPOWERU: A POWERFUL, PROVEN PATH TO WELLNESS Tools to Engage, Educate, and Evolve EmpowerU is a complete wellness program that empowers residents to stay actively in charge of their lives and make the most of all that their community has to offer.
  4. 4. Beyond just a functional aspect, EmpowerU includes a nutritional component. This complete and proven wellness program helps seniors eat better, move better and feel better. It’s a high-touch, whole- person approach that engages seniors on an individual level and delivers measurable results, said Carole DeBonte, Senior Regional Clinical Nutrition Manager. Administrators have reported that new residents have chosen the community specifically because it offers a comprehensive wellness program, and it’s clear that those who participate are happier and more social within the community, DeBonte and Santiago agreed. “One of the comments that Chandra received from the administrator is that she has people participating in the EmpowerU wellness program who have never participated in any program before,” DeBonte said. EmpowerU includes instructor-led classes that focus on balance, flexibility and strength; examples include yoga, weights 101, aqua tone, line dancing and Zumba. Classes are color-coded to signify ability and mobility level, and each participant completes assessments that measure their progress. The nutritional component of EmpowerU is interactive and educational, addressing everything from osteoporosis to cooking classes, with Morrison dietitians sharing information on topics such as how toavoidholidayweightgainandhow proteinimpacts muscle and strength. Residents can participate in one or both components of EmpowerU. “This next generation is very involved,” DeBonte said. “They are asking questions. They want to know ‘Why am I doing this? What is the benefit?’ That is where our program is really unique. It addresses the demand for choice and personalized service that this next generation is looking for, it links it to our dining program and other available services, and gives the resident the flexibility to choose and be in control of their total wellbeing. “ Hear What Residents Have To Say About EmpowerU! “….the nutrition part of the program helps us to un- derstand the new food plate guidelines as to portion size and food choices (who knew the color of foods is important?) and what to look for when buying food (whole grains!). We are not quite where we want to be yet and are looking forward to the next series.” Roy & Rita, Glen Eddy residents “We know how important physical wellbeing is as we age and continue to live independently. Best of all, the classes are informative, enjoyable and physically chal- lenging according to our abilities.” Hugo & JJ Lijeron, Glen Eddy residents “In my post-assessment I was able to perform my tests without assistance. Great improvements from attend- ing the classes; I am now able to do things without my walker in my apartment.” Lois S., Glen Eddy resident 4
  5. 5. EMPOWERING RESIDENTS IN BODY, MIND, AND SPIRIT Associate Spotlight: Chandra Santiago,Wellness Director As Chandra Santiago talks about the residents in her EmpowerU classes at Glen Eddy and Hawthorne Ridge, her voice bounces up and down with a joyful repetition that leaves no doubt she’s passionate about what she does. “We focus on cardio, strength, flexibility and balance,” Santiago said. “Each session, as we move forward, I’m able to adapt the class to the community based on their situation.” She continues, talking rapid-fire about a new ball purchase. “Only a buck each!” she says with such enthusiasm you can’t help but smile and follow along. Santiago, who joined the Morrison family a year ago, has been a trainer and teacher for more than 20 years. She has a relentlessly bright precision that’s more cheerleader than drill sergeant, but it’s clear she gets results. “Chandra has a tremendous ability to build relationships with the residents,” said Carole DeBonte, Director of Nutrition, who works with Santiago as part of the total wellness program. “As part of the program, they set goals, and some of these goals are very personal. One resident might say ‘I want to be able to walk up three steps, without somebody helping me, to go to my granddaughter’s wedding.’ So she’s developed these relationships, which is one of the keys to her success. ” As Wellness Director for Glen Eddy and Hawthorne Ridge, Santiago develops specialized wellness programs for each community. She helps residents assess their abilities, set goals and progress in their wellness journey. To participate in the EmpowerU program, residents need to attend a class at least twice a week. As part of the classes, Santiago reminds residents how nutrition pertains to what they are doing functionally, and ties that into nutrition classes and the program led by DeBonte and her team, which is integral to EmpowerU. Santiago’s training style is nothing like the celebrity trainers on television who bark orders at cowering participants. She holds residents accountable to their training schedule and progress, for sure, but she says her approach is about encouragement and of course, empowerment. “We have fun!” Santiago said. “We have a lot of fun. I do the functional part, of course, which is very structured, but I think my style is engaging and fun. I’m really into queuing, which is extremely important with seniors. But you want to queue in a way that you get the best form that you can from them, but also have fun. So, for instance, I ask everyone to stand up and maybe they are chatting. So I say, ‘OK, everyone, let’s get into our alignment. Tailbone to the floor, feet are parallel, rrrrroll those shoulders back. You guys are ready; you guys look really good; let’s start those bodies up.’ And in between, I’m asking them, ‘Hey guys, are you breathing out there? Always remember to breathe.’ We keep it light.”
  6. 6. There’s a reason they call New Jersey the Garden State, and at The Evergreens, a continuing care retirement community in Moorestown, Executive Chef John Branella and Director of Dining Services John Kennedy are making the most of the abundance right outside their door. The motto at The Evergreens is “Where Community Lives,” and Branella and Kennedy are right at home creating and sharing fresh, wholesome and flavorful meals with residents, as well as educating the larger community. The Evergreens has a farm stand each Wednesday in the summer, featuring fresh produce and items such as shoofly pie or homemade jam. And there’s quite a buzz about some of the newest residents; bees in a community beehive will help pollinate produce blooms while also providing honey. Even residents with less mobility who cannot get outside enjoy views from their windows of tomato plants or other produce that blooms in spring and ripens in OUR FOOD RULES IN THE GARDEN STATE Executive Chef John Branella and Director of Dining Services John Kennedy,The Evergreens the summer sun. Beyond providing an agrarian vista and a welcome marker for the changing seasons, the homegrown results become healthy nutrition for residents to enjoy. We asked Branella and Kennedy to talk about ways they are incorporating Our Food Rules into dining at The Evergreens. TMW: Your community is well established; its history dates back to 1919. Was integrating Our Food Rules a big change for you? JK: When the Food Rules were rolled out, we felt very strongly that we were already doing many of those things; we use fresh produce whenever possible, we make things from scratch when we can. We have always worked hard to connect with our residents when it comes to “taste memories.” Many of our residents come from an agricultural background, and we emphasize that connection with them. You can’t fake it. They know farming, and they know fresh. It’s a whole philosophy of engaging residents about how we cook, what we’re cooking and how we communicate about what we are cooking. That’s really what it’s all about. TMW: Chef, what’s in season right now? JB: Right now fresh produce is abundant, especially corn. At our Chef’s Center Stage in the dining room, we have our stockpot simmering with farm-fresh corn. Residents walk into the dining room; you can smell it. It’s delicious. People love it that way, simple and fresh, but I might also make a Jersey tomato gazpacho, with a roasted corn and avocado salsa. TMW: You mentioned there’s a strong connection to agriculture for your residents; can you tell us more? JK: We grow a variety of tomatoes here on the campus. Being in South Jersey, this is Campbell’s Soup country. A lot of the different tomato hybrids were developed at Rutgers University and a lot of the residents who live here worked for Campbell’s and were part of that culture when Campbell’s was developing different tomato varieties for their soup. So there is a really strong connection.
  7. 7. TMW: How do you share new ideas or healthy ways of preparing food with residents? JB: A few weeks ago we did a program called “Everything Tomatoes.” We talked about all the different varieties, and I brought in some heirloom tomatoes, all different colors and shapes. We did an heirloom tomato bruschetta; they were able to taste it and talk about the benefits of olive oil, sea salt and fresh basil. We baked a flatbread for them to sample; it was caramelized Vidalia onions and goat cheese that I made in our TurboChef. On top of that, I placed the bruschetta that I had just made, and then drizzled eight-year-old, aged balsamic vinegar on top of that. We talked about salt and how to monitor the content of that; I think they really enjoyed it. TMW: Are residents really that interested in food? JK: The Chef’s Center Stage is pretty much a monthly affair, people love it, and all these programs that we do are an opportunity for residents to engage and interact. It’s not passive. Residents may help us with some of the chopping when appropriate. And the sales team may invite prospective residents to join us. Maybe they want to know more about our dining program and how the food is prepared, and this is a great opportunity for them to meet the chef and see, under real circumstances, how we prepare our food. Residents have an opportunity to tour the kitchen when they move in. In the last few years, we find that residents are very knowledgeable about food; these are people you would consider “foodies.” They are really into it. They want to see and talk about the ingredients, including where they come from and how healthy it is. It’s not the stereotypical low-fat, low-salt “senior” menu of the past; it’s really more challenging now, and we embrace that. TMW: How do you make things taste great while keeping meals healthy? JB: We use a lot of fresh herbs here, so we try to enhance flavors that way. Instead of using fats or salts, we use fresh herbs as much as possible. We have a greenhouse where we start plants from seed and grow the plants, and then transplant them into the garden. TMW: Can you tell us more about your greenhouse? JK: We actually have seven or eight tomato varieties and all kinds of other things that we grow. We like to share our fresh food philosophy with the larger community. Every year, the residents and some of the staff get together and we sell plants at a plant sale. So if we sell them for a buck-fifty or two bucks, we can grow more plants. Pretty much anywhere you can stick a plant, we put it there. We might get chased away by the groundskeepers, but if there’s dirt, we plant it.