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Variety is the Spice of Life

Kimberley Fowler
By Kimberley FowlerMay 30, 2017

Retirement communities across the country are acting as frontline advocates in the battle for better senior health, creating new and innovate programs aimed at fostering wellness. The holistic approach that these programs are taking focuses on the bigger picture of health, rather that exercise alone.

Going beyond exercise and nutrition, SPICE is Brightview Senior Living’s approach to wellness. The SPICE program, an acronym that stands for spiritual, physical, intellectual, cultural and emotional wellness, acts as a philosophy and directive that drives programming, while helping staff and residents ensure that Brightview’s communities are vibrant places to live. 

At a community in Arlington, a resident who was a former airline employee started a travel series where residents share pictures, experiences and memories of their travels. In New Jersey, a resident started a men’s club where they play pool-hall baseball, a game that is so popular, it has been added as a permanent fixture to the community’s calendar. From sip and paint classes, to museum outings and inter-generational programs with schools and girl guide groups, it’s “fascinating to see everything that is going on here,” says Martha McClung, Director of Vibrant Living at Brightview.

How Does the SPICE Program Work?

Different activities are developed under each element of the program, and some activities overlap. For example, spiritual activities include meditation, and physical activities include the SPICE in Motion program — an individualized exercise program run by a certified fitness coordinator — Zumba or yoga. Intellectual activities include courses and lectures; cultural activities include cooking demonstrations, excursions to art galleries or museums; and emotional activities include community outreach and volunteer programs.

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Although some activities like the SPICE in Motion program are offered at all Brightview communities, some programs are customized to the interests and experiences of the residents at specific communities. “There is something for everyone, whether you’re outgoing or like spending time in your apartment, we want residents to use the community space to get active, and to establish a social center, because we know the detrimental impact of isolation on people,” says Marilynn Duker, President of Brightview Senior Living.

Shared Experiences Foster Bonds

The SPICE philosophy guides Brightview staff to develop a holistic view to wellness that is closely matched to the diverse backgrounds and interests of the people in its communities. What’s unique about the program is that it’s not just for the residents, but also for the associates who can get involved in the activities and outreach within Brightview, and in the community at large. “The bond between associates and residents is spectacular because of the shared, meaningful and stimulating opportunities that we all participate in,” McClung explains. 

Brightview’s proactive approach to wellness looks at everything, including financial, physical and emotional health, and it offers programs to develop these wellness areas. Since its inception, SPICE has been a huge success, not just in Brightview’s independent living communities, but also in its memory care programs, where dementia patients are active with painting, music and other aspects of SPICE. “It’s been so popular among residents that one of our communities adopted a boxer/lab mix and named him Spice,” McClung says.

Senior living resident Phyllis with Spice
Senior living resident Dick with Spice

The staff has noticed a positive change throughout the communities since the inception of SPICE. Residents in the SPICE in Motion program have experienced a change in their physical strength and activity levels, and relationships among the community, and between residents and associates, have been extremely positive. “We have such interesting and amazing people here with varied backgrounds,” McClung says. “Everything is modified and customized to the interests and ability levels of our residents.”

How has a holistic approach to care improved your life or the life of a loved one? Share your experiences with us in the comments below. 

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Kimberley Fowler
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Kimberley Fowler

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