Wellness Coaching in Affordable Housing

Challenge:

Eaton Senior Communities is an affordable housing provider with more than 200 residents in apartments and assisted living. In 2010, Eaton was asked to participate in Vitalize 360, a person-centered wellness software plan. The community asked resident volunteers to take health and wellness surveys, which showed significant health and wellness needs, which led to greater screening. However, some residents needed more intensive help and had no regular source for employees with wellness backgrounds.

Solution:

In 2014, Eaton began working with the Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU) to provide wellness coaching to residents. An emerging field, wellness coaches focus on helping people make lifestyle changes to become as healthy as possible and empower them to continue their new habits.

Implementation Details:

The Eaton Resident Services Coordinator meets with residents after they move into the community and conducts a survey to find out his or her wellness goals. Each year, Eaton staff visits MSU of Denver’s Integrative Healthcare Program Professionalism class to discuss internship opportunities with their residents. Eaton also brings students to the community for an onsite tour and discussion panel of residents who speak about how wellness coaching has impacted them. A wellness coach intern is assigned to residents who are interested in the program. The Eaton Director of Wellness and Resident Services Coordinator manage the wellness coaching interns during the semester.

Factors for Success:

  • Developing strong relationships with local academic institutions in order to expose students to the field of aging services
  • Having “champions,” both employees and residents, within the housing community to support a learning culture

Outcomes:

  • 90% of Eaton residents participate in the wellness programs.
  • Right now, Eaton is working with researchers at MSU and the University of Denver to analyze Vitalize 360 data and the wellness coaching framework to determine health outcomes.
  • Eaton and MSU created a wellness coaching partnership toolkit that includes handbooks for the interns and housing site, along with student recruiting tools that can be found at http://www.eatonsenior.org/about/internships-and-careers/
  • 15 housing providers have downloaded the toolkit and Eaton is in contact with several universities and accredited wellness coaching institutions to set up a similar program.
  • Interns have changed their focus to working in aging services (e.g., one employee is a former wellness coaching intern who hadn’t planned to work in aging until her internship, and others who decided to focus on aging as well).

Need more information?

Contact Diana Delgado at Eaton Senior Communities