Published on May 7, 2019
Allentown, PA—At Phoebe Allentown, resident wellness is taking on new dimensions with the development of a comprehensive program in partnership with BAYADA. As of March, BAYADA and Phoebe have partnered to bring regularly scheduled fitness classes to Phoebe Allentown’s independent living and personal care buildings and are tying those classes in with physical and occupational therapy on an individual basis as well.
The Terrace at Phoebe Allentown has been offering regularly scheduled fitness classes led by a certified and trained BAYADA physical therapist. As part of Phoebe’s ongoing commitment to resident wellness, the class leaders are integrating fitness classes more closely with individual residents’ therapy plans, where applicable. A similar program is also in place at Miller Personal Care at 19th & Chew, where residents take part in regular screenings and are often more actively engaged in physical or occupational therapy treatments.
As residents of the independent living community complete therapy programs across the street at the Phoebe Allentown Health Care Center, they are introduced to fitness classes that tie in with their specific therapy goals. Similarly, participants and instructors look out for changes in the residents’ abilities during class, such as upper body weakness or signs of difficulty with balance, and head the problem off with a recommendation for therapy before it becomes severe.
“Our goal is always to keep the resident safe and healthy in their home,” says physical therapist and BAYADA fitness class instructor Matt Martonik. BAYADA has a department dedicated to fitness and wellness, and focuses a lot of energy on targeting specific issues in the older adult population: falls, chronic disease management, functional deficits, and so on.
The whole idea is to take a proactive approach to wellness. Wellness programming is a staple of community life at the Terrace—BAYADA regularly offers lectures on different aspects of health, fitness, and well-being at the community, and Phoebe employs a CRNP who acts as the wellness nurse at the Terrace. Usually, the wellness nurse acts as a liaison between the resident and their personal physicians and specialists. In some cases, such as residents with no family or who prefer to leave these matters up to her, the wellness nurse handles all aspects of care. She also coordinates with the pharmacy for prescriptions.
BAYADA’s fitness classes at the Terrace and Miller Personal Care are a new development as of February, but they’ve taken off to great success with the residents. In only a few short weeks, Sandra Davis—who attends daily classes at the Terrace—says she noticed a marked improvement in her strength and stability. “I didn’t realize how weak my upper body had become,” she recalls. “When I went to move something or bend over to pick something up, I’d think, ‘Oh, well, I just can’t do it.’ The other day I went to move a chest of drawers and I was able to without any trouble!”
Martonik attributes this kind of improvement to the comprehensive design of BAYADA’s classes. “In every class, there is a point to what we’re working on—a specific function, a chain of movement in the body. A lot of activities that we do are multi-movement, and with all of the exercises we introduce another goal. Participants don’t necessarily realize because we keep it light and fun. It’s more like dancing; but we’re targeting specific areas that can prevent falls and issues in that population.”
Davis says she’s noticed a change in her classmates, too. A friend of hers who attends classes almost daily is 99; when she first joined, Davis would hear her say, “I can’t do that,” or she’d do exercises from her chair. “She doesn’t say that anymore,” says Davis. “She gets up and tries. The instructors are mindful; they show you how to modify something so it suits your ability. Now she gets up and stands behind her chair, and I encourage her.”
BAYADA has been tracking attendance at classes. “Our goal has been to improve attendance as much as we can,” says Martonik, adding that outdoor classes are now being discussed for the summer. “There’s always more to do, and more things to introduce. What we’re doing now is the base—as instructors get to know the population more and residents get more comfortable, we can really tailor these programs to the community. Everything we do is unique to the location itself.”
For instance, at Miller Personal Care the programs are tailored toward a different level of abilities and different risks and conditions. Martonik says the overarching goal is the same: to keep people healthy and happy, and to limit decline as much as possible. Classes are often tied in with therapy, and as new conditions arise therapy can be tailored to what has been covered in class. It’s a hand-in-hand arrangement that assures greater progress and resident health across the board.