New tool helps senior living communities assess wellness efforts – News

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The pandemic disrupted the delivery of all services in the senior living industry, including wellness opportunities. To get the industry back on track, an international advocacy group has launched a new audit tool to help organizations identify their wellness-related strengths and weaknesses.

The International Council on Active Aging’s Wellness Audit  was introduced recently at the 2022 ICAA Conference, Leadership Summit & Expo in Orlando, FL, the strategic planning tool provides a “bird’s eye view of the people, places and programs available across an organization.”

ICAA founder and CEO Colin Milner told McKnight’s Senior Living that creation of the tool was driven by a need and a gap in the market — “In this case a huge gap, based on the daily conversations we have with operators and outreach.” 

The audits, he added, will help operators establish a baseline for where their wellness culture or programs are today and then see how that baseline compares across the industry by segment.

“Wellness is a high or essential priority for more than 80% of senior living, and this valuable tool equips them with an overview of how they are delivering against their promises and goals,” Milner said. “The ICAA Wellness Audit provides the opportunity to look objectively at how wellness is advancing in their organization, and identify areas of growth and change to guide progress.”

With the audit, communities can identify wellness capacity across departments, assess the current situation, determine big-picture capital needs, pinpoint staffing structure and training needs, locate areas of strength and weakness, and frame an action plan.

The online tool examines six main areas in depth:

  • Community characteristics;
  • Wellness culture and leadership;
  • Wellness touchpoints and assessments;
  • Wellness experiences, programs and opportunities;
  • Amenities and physical spaces used for wellness; and
  • Wellness outcomes, priorities and goals.

ICAA spent a year developing the audit and testing it through 15 multi-location operators. That feedback informed decisions to create a selection of tools, forms and a user guide to support the pre-implementation process.

According to ICAA, only 12% of senior living communities have ever conducted a wellness audit. Milner said that although many other areas of a community are audited, there is no requirement for the wellness area. And through the pilot, ICAA found that communities lacked access to a tool to make it easy to conduct an audit.

The online tool is available on the ICAA website to ICAA members in senior living, active adult and other age-restricted housing communities.