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Innovator award winners

The ICAA Industry Innovators Awards program honors excellence and creativity in the health and wellness field. By recognizing organizations that have created cutting-edge wellness programs, the ICAA highlights these innovative solutions for industry leaders and governmental organizations to learn from.

Recipients of The ICAA Industry Innovators Awards work on inspiring, new directions in older adult wellness. These award winners not only give us a glimpse into the trends shaping the futures of older adult health and wellness, they also give us hope that it is possible to solve the inactivity problem.

Imaginative, original older-adult programs highlight 2016 ICAA Innovators Awards

The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 ICAA Innovators Achievement Awards for excellence and creativity in designing programs for older adults.

Entries were submitted by organizations and professionals that share ICAA’s commitment to change society's perceptions of aging and improve the quality of life for older adults within seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, vocational, physical, spiritual, intellectual, social and environmental.

The ICAA judging committee assessed the many award submissions on their levels of innovation, pervasiveness, ambition, measurability and dazzle. They also looked for:

• Programs and initiatives that could be adapted by others, in part or in whole, or which sparked ideas to adapt an approach to a local situation.
• Programs that did not require payment to access or promote a commercial product.
• Submissions that included multiple types of participants, such as intergenerational, or among departments or people who were functionally able and those who were not.
• Submissions that reported outcomes, such as number of participants or partnerships or some other measure of success.

"The Innovators Awards program has always been about sparking fresh thinking and recognizing creativity in older-adult organizations that share our dedication to the active-aging lifestyle," says Colin Milner, ICAA's founder and CEO. "I'm continually amazed and encouraged by the incredible variety and success of so many programs being created lately, as exemplified by our worthy winners this year."

Five winning programs were selected.

Award-winning program: Center 4 Brain Health

Submitted by: Krystal Culler, Director, Center 4 Brain Health, Menorah Park Center for Senior Living, Beachwood, Ohio

Awarded for: Reach into the community; cognitive/intellectual dimension of wellness; successful implementation and outcomes.

Description: "The Center 4 Brain Health is a non-pharmacological, non-hospital based Brain Health Center located in a senior care community," says Krystal Culler. "Our extensive programming includes classes, engagement, education, support and assessments for those concerned about memory and thinking skills, including those diagnosed and not diagnosed with brain health issues. Through direct community outreach and speaking engagements, the Center has educated nearly 1,650 community-dwelling adults on the importance of brain health and has offered continuing education credits to nearly 360 professionals from diverse backgrounds."

Culler says her initial goal was to attract 200 people in the first operational year and 400 in the second, but her organization quintupled those numbers within the first year.

• • •

Award-winning program: Five Meal Plan

Submitted by: Laura Glass, Director of Community Life and Volunteer Services, Quincy Village, Waynesboro, Pennsylvania

Awarded for: Person-centered culture change; physical dimension of wellness; program effectiveness.

Description: “This plan has truly allowed us to provide quality resident-centered care,” says Laura Glass. “We conducted research and designed a meal program that would work best for residents in nursing care.”

Instead of three traditional meals, the plan serves made-to-order meals five times a day to increase the dining experience satisfaction, decrease the amount of weight loss and better regulate diabetic spikes and drops.

“Now there are more residents than ever eating their meals in the dining room,” says Glass. “Weights have been stable. People with diabetes are educated about making appropriate decisions and enjoy all the offerings. This has been a successful and proven marketing tool within the county. Resident testimonials prove this to be the greatest success.”

•••

Award-winning program: Healthy Aging Campaign

Submitted by: Casie Nishi, Executive Director, The Wellness Institute at Seven Oaks Hospital, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Awarded for: Community outreach; unique message focus on cost savings; use of social media; outcomes.

Description: "The campaign demonstrated the Wellness Institute initiatives supporting healthy aging have saved millions of dollars so far and have the potential to save much more as the population ages," says Casie Nishi. "Instead of focusing solely on the individual benefits of activity and healthy lifestyle choices for older adults, (we) promoted awareness of the benefits to the entire community by reducing healthcare costs. This extended approach was rolled out with social media, newspaper, email and community billboards directing people to the website, where articles aimed to start and expand the dialogue on healthy, active aging. A team from Seven Oaks Hospital met with decision-makers, political figures and community partners to explain the broader impact of Healthy Aging programs with the goals of influencing greater support for funding, improving program referrals and leading a shift towards preventative care and health promotion in the community."

Nishi points to 10,848 direct Facebook engagements with Healthy Aging posts (including likes, shares, clicks and comments). Over 24% of website visits were a direct result of email and social media links as well as display ads and paid search, and Tweet impressions rose 266% with 8,529 for the “Healthy Aging Reduces Healthcare Costs” theme alone. The Institute also won a grant to expand a warm-water therapy pool, providing 12,250 more spots in class per year.

•••

Award-winning program: The Thrive Institute

Submitted by: Cathy Sessions, Marketing Director, Notre Dame Health Care, Worcester, Massachusetts

Awarded for: Unique multidimensional programming; outreach to the community; program outcomes.

Description: The Thrive Institute began by offering "thriving" breakfast workshops -- hour-long, free interactive workshops held monthly to help aging adults achieve their best level of wellness regardless of physical situation. Programs provide attendees with holistic health modalities that older populations are generally not exposed to, such as: Mindfulness for Stress Reduction, Win the Energy Lottery and Build Strength and Maintain Balance and Independence, Introduction to Qi Gong, the Emotional Freedom Technique and Laughter Yoga.

"The program serves 250 residents and provides free education and wellness programs for local seniors who might not have the finances to attend such courses elsewhere," says Cathy Sessions. "Such programs tend to be costly and difficult to access. Attendees have been wildly enthusiastic. After drawing 12 people to our first workshop two years ago, the program now routinely draws more than 40. Word has spread that participants are guaranteed a warm welcome, reliable and interesting health information, sociability, ideas and a healthful breakfast," says Sessions.

•••

Award-winning program: Techy Teens, Savvy Seniors

Submitted by: Nita Wilkinson, Director of Advancement, Green Hills Community, West Liberty, Ohio

Awarded for: Intergenerational connections; organic growth fueled by teens; intellectual and social dimensions of aging.

Description: The original goal was for teens to mentor residents on smartphones, tablets, email, etc. Two teens were to meet one person or couple a month, but after three meetings, the teens asked to come more often. Technology training expanded to technology-based projects. The teens taught the residents to dance the "Whip/nae nae" and made a YouTube video of it. They held contests on social media to see who could get the most likes for their photos, created videos and attended a basketball game and pizza party. Several residents went to the teens’ grads. The final formal gathering was filled with hugs, tears and laughter. The program received media coverage and became a standard within the Logan County community of intergenerational programming. Originally offered through a weekly Coffee Connection, the program grew from about 12 people to nearly 30 at times.

"What started as a way for elders to understand technology became an intergenerational program that continues to this day with the new class of students," says Nita Wilkinson.

Each of the Achievement Award winners received a crystal award of recognition, as well as a free pass to the 2016 ICAA Conference, which took place November 17-19 in Orlando, Florida. In addition, ICAA's Journal on Active Aging will publish individual profiles of the winners in issues throughout 2017.

Vermont life care community wins 2016 ICAA Innovators Green Award

A multifaceted approach to sustainability including environmentally friendlier laundry facilities and controlling pests with beneficial insects has earned a nonprofit life care community a prestigious environmental wellness award.

The International Council on Active Aging (ICAA) is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2016 ICAA Innovators Green Award is the older-adult community of Wake Robin in Shelburne, Vermont. The community received the award for its Energy Use and Consumption Plan.

The competition was open to organizations and professionals that share ICAA's goals of changing society's perceptions of aging and improving the quality of life for older adults within seven dimensions of wellness: emotional, vocational, physical, spiritual, intellectual, social and environmental. An ICAA committee of judges chose the Innovators Green Award winner for excellence in making a positive difference in the lives of older adults in a sustainable, environmentally friendly way.

"The success of our green initiative -- and the practices we have in place to preserve and sustain a healthy community -- would not be possible without the commitment of the entire Wake Robin community, from the board and staff to the dedicated residents," says Leslie Parker, environmental services director at Wake Robin.

Instead of bleach in its laundry and aquatic center, the community switched to environmentally friendlier ozone as a disinfectant, deodorizer, bleaching agent and cleaning tool, helping it reduce its carbon footprint by 58,219 lbs. A hot-water reduction effort saved 316,090 gallons and over USD$24,000 in one year alone. Over two years, staff released some 100,000 ladybugs on the gardens and landscape to reduce damage from aphids and scale bugs.

Wake Robin sources its food locally whenever possible. Food waste is commercially composted year-round, and a resident-initiated composting program sends an additional 600-plus gallons of kitchen waste to a commercial composting operation.

Using solar energy has reduced the company’s on-site energy costs by 24%, while employee ride-sharing has reduced tailpipe emissions, saved employees money and helped build camaraderie.

"Data has shown the effectiveness of the energy use and conservation plan; however, it really boils down to an unwavering commitment from the entire Wake Robin community to ensure the plan succeeds," Parker states.

"A collective mindset is a driving reason for how we found success with our plan," Parker continues. "Everyone here believes in figuring out how to impact the environment in positive ways while working collectively to implement the changes to do so. This drive for change and knowledge is at the center of creating our thriving green community."

Says ICAA CEO and Founder Colin Milner: "Wake Robin's holistic approach proves that saving the environment can also save dollars -- and create a healthier living environment for older adults. They’ve set a tremendous example for other older-adult organizations to follow."


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