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Inspiring approaches to active aging honored with 2017 ICAA Innovators Achievement Awards

(Vancouver, BC, August 25, 2017) – The International Council on Active Aging® (ICAA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 ICAA Innovators Achievement Awards. A professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry, ICAA presents its Innovators Awards each year to those in the industry who are leading the way, setting new standards, and making a difference in the lives of older adults. The Achievement Award category recognizes excellence and creativity in programs or concepts that improve wellness for older adults.

The 15th annual Innovators Awards competition was open to organizations and professionals that share ICAA’s goals of changing society’s perceptions of aging and improving 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 Achievement Award winners for their innovative approaches that advance active aging and promote wellness for older adults.

Created with a philosophy of sharing, the awards program showcases initiatives that can serve as models and be adapted by others. Judges look for the following:

- Ease of adoption and adaptability of programs, initiatives or ideas by others
- Neither payment required for access nor promotion of a commercial product

Winners are also judged based on the criteria below:

  • Innovation
  • Pervasiveness/adaptability of the program
  • Ambitious new territory explored
  • Measurable
  • Dazzle factor

“The Innovators Achievement Awards program is fundamentally about giving accolades to organizations that push creative boundaries in creating programs for older adults,” says Colin Milner, ICAA’s founder and CEO. “Every year, the innovative thinking and implementation inspire us. I am continually amazed at the insight and application of research-based learnings into exciting new programs.”

Award recipients receive a crystal award of recognition, plus a free pass to the ICAA Conference 2017, held in Orlando, Florida, October 12-14. In addition, ICAA’s Journal on Active Aging® will publish a profile on each organization and its innovative initiative.

The winners

Watermark University
(Watermark Retirement Communities, Tucson, Arizona)

This award was granted for collaboration among organizations, for creating a unique approach to fall prevention, for peer-professional partnership, and for maximizing opportunities in the physical wellness dimension, including healthcare, nutrition and physical activity.

The background: WRC initiated a dramatic shift in its philosophy of daily resident lifestyle and recreation programming. Community life directors were tasked with reimagining their roles from one resembling a cruise ship director to that of a leader/faculty member of Watermark University. Communities transitioned from activity calendars to course catalogs highlighting classes that promote the dimensions of wellness, and particularly those that strengthen the connection of one dimension to others. Notably successful resident-led course entries are Color Theory, Landmark Court Cases of Connecticut, and Animal Behavior and Ethology. Associate-led classes include Sign Language 101, Drumming Your Way to Good Health, Chair Yoga and Ikebana. This past year, over 4,400 Watermark University classes were offered in the communities. Beyond feeling invested and involved in their community, individuals are experiencing more personal transformations, bringing their "whole person" to their classes, work and lives.

Creating Community through Staff Integration and Artistic Expression
(Casa Dorinda, Montecito, California)

This award was granted for breaking down organizational silos, for integrating staff into programming, and for maximizing opportunities in the dimensions of cognitive/intellectual, emotional and professional/vocational wellness.

The background: Previously, Casa Dorinda operated in silos of independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing, and residents were anxious that when they moved to different levels of care, they would lose friends and become isolated. Once Casa Dorinda consolidated all activities staff in one department, they were integrated across all levels, helping a unity in care and relationships to develop. Staff take part in large-scale events, escort trips and attend community birthday lunches. They also design and implement community art projects in all care levels.

Now, when moving to higher levels of care, residents see familiar faces and feel at home. Art projects are also exhibited in the campus gallery, along with a monthly art reception to bring residents together

Since this shift through the community art program and staff integration, program attendance in all activities has increased, rising from 1,000 participants/month to over 2,400/month. In assisted living, participation has grown from 2 to 3 participants to between 8 and 25 in each activity. Skilled nursing has also seen participation surge. As a result, residents no longer hesitate to ask for care and say they look forward to the move, as it’s no longer a limitation but a step toward the freedom to participate again.

Fragrance in Frames
(Touchmark, Beaverton, Oregon)

This award was granted for a wellness-oriented and person-centered approach to memory care, and for maximizing opportunities in dimensions of cognitive/intellectual, emotional, social and physical wellness.

The background: People living with memory loss can lose their interest in activities as well as the resulting sense of accomplishment upon completing tasks or activities. Touchmark staff decided to mix paint with essential oils for painting activities in memory care as a way to support residents without resorting to medications.

Residents smell the essential oils first to establish their scent likes and dislikes, then staff mix drops of oil with the paint. Pairings of color and oil might include: Stress Away, a blend for reducing anxiety paired with warm colors; or Peppermint, for residents who aren’t feeling well (e.g., upset stomach/getting over a cold) paired with green/red colors. Completed pictures are framed and hung throughout the memory care neighborhoods. As new paintings replace them, the pictures go into binders and are used to reminisce with residents. Individuals also benefit from the one-on-one social interactions with staff during the painting sessions. Residents have responded to the program with decreased agitation and behaviors, increased attention span, improved handwriting and expanded social engagement.

Wellness Scout Program
(Sunnyside Retirement Community, Harrisonburg, Virginia)

This award was granted for peer-to-peer leadership, for unique resident-led programming, for wellness-orientation, and for enhancing the dimensions of cognitive/intellectual and professional/vocational wellness.

The background: The initial goal of the Wellness Scout program was to inspire residents to better understand and pursue individual, whole-person wellness. The program started with the opportunity to earn seven badges, each representing a dimension of wellness. Now, residents serve as Scout Leaders who organize, determine criteria for and implement additional wellness badges. Residents must complete five or more nonrepeating, related activities to earn each badge.

Each month at least one new badge is introduced. For example, a resident bee keeper is leading the Bee Badge, which is earned by attending bee lectures, planting bee-sustaining flowers, using natural fertilizers, and harvesting and tasting local honey. A resident software designer built the Wellness Scout website and was inspired to create the Technology Badge to encourage residents to read about a new or current technology topic, learn how to use a new program/smartphone app or attend a Computer Club meeting.

Through the program, residents gain an avenue to share their knowledge and skills in ways that benefit peers, neighbors and the whole community. It also gives Scouts and Scout Leaders a renewed sense of purpose and well-being.

Stepping Up Your Nutrition
(Maryland Department of Aging, Maintaining Active Citizens and Abbott Nutrition)

This award was granted for collaboration among organizations, for creating a unique approach to fall prevention, for peer-professional partnership, and for maximizing opportunities in the physical wellness dimension, including healthcare, nutrition and physical activity.

The background: Although often overlooked, nutrition plays a fundamental role in falls prevention. A public-private partnership between the Maryland Department of Aging, Maintaining Active Citizens (MAC) Center of Excellence and Abbott Nutrition was established to create a nutrition curriculum for falls prevention that could be taught in conjunction with evidence-based falls prevention programs. The class, Stepping Up Your Nutrition, was designed and field-tested by nutrition professionals. The curriculum and workshop activities use proven approaches from evidence-based programs to increase participant activation, self-efficacy and the ability to maintain behavior change through self-management.

The classes are led by trained professionals and peer leaders who are older adults with a strong interest in nutrition. Participants learn in a fun, interactive way focusing on: how nutrition affects falls risk; the importance of muscles for strength; the key nutrients for older adults (particularly protein and fluid); how to determine a personal nutrition risk score; and how to create an individualized action plan to improve nutritional health.

After the class was piloted at four locations, an evaluation showed that 100% of participants strongly agreed/agreed that they understood how nutrition, muscle strength and general health are linked to the risk for falls, as well as how exercise and protein are important to maintain muscle strength. All participants indicated that they felt confident in their ability to plan a balanced meal. Stepping Up Your Nutrition has exceeded goals for participant knowledge gains.

About the International Council on Active Aging (ICAA)
ICAA, a professional association that leads, connects and defines the active-aging industry, supports professionals who develop wellness facilities, programs and services for adults over 50. The association is focused on active aging -- an approach to aging that helps older adults live life as fully as possible within all dimensions of wellness -- and provides its members with education, information, resources and tools. As an active-aging educator and advocate, ICAA has advised numerous organizations and governmental bodies, including the US Administration on Aging, the National Institute on Aging (one of the US National Institutes of Health), the US Department of Health and Human Services, Canada's Special Senate Committee on Aging, and the British Columbia (Canada) Ministries of Health and Healthy Living and Sport.

For more information or questions:
Contact: Colin Milner, CEO, ICAA
Toll-free: 1-866-335-9777 (North America)
Telephone: 604-734-4466; cell: 604-763-4595


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