Newport News, VA – When it comes to finding more effective ways to help older adults age in a place and manner of their choosing, Riverside Health System is changing the conversation.

Literally.

This month, at the Warwick Forest Continuing Care Retirement Community in Newport News, Riverside is pleased to announce Emmeline Gasink, M.D. launched the award-winning Vitalize 360 program, a coaching and assessment process that enhances well-being and improves the health of the older adult population by focusing on their goals and what is most important to them.

"We're changing the conversation, asking residents and patients 'what's important to you,' instead of 'what's the matter with you,'" said Gasink, Medical Director for the Riverside Lifelong Health Division and Warwick Forest. "When you do that, you begin to create and understand the story of the patient, not just the disease of the patient."

Warwick Forest was chosen to be the first Riverside community to participate in the Vitalize 360 program because Gasink was among 10 health care leaders nationwide selected to participate in the fourth cohort of Practice Change Leaders, earning $45,000 to enhance leadership skills and implement a new aging program.

"Riverside is committed to aging and aging excellence," said Kyle Allen, D.O., the health system's Vice President of Clinical Integration. "Vitalize 360 goes along with our mission statement to respect choices. When you get around to person centered care it's getting patients more engaged in their care by making sure we know what's important to them." 

What is Vitalize 360?

Officially speaking, Vitalize 360 combines an innovative, award-winning, person-directed approach to wellness coaching with the power of information derived from a scientifically- grounded assessment system. The program engages, challenges and inspires older adults to live full, healthy, vibrant lives and enables communities to demonstrate significant improvement in successful aging.

Participants share what is most important to them, set goals and refocus on living more intentionally. Vitalize 360 supports individuals as they progress through stages of "activation" toward living their "best lives."

"This is important particularly as it relates to older adults," Allen said. "It's very passive if you come to me as an older adult and you just come in with your complaints, I do what I think is important, but I didn't ask what was important to you. By asking, it changes the whole dynamic around. It gets patients activated in their own health."

At Warwick Forest, Gasink will enroll 40 residents into the program and review their progress over the next year.

What does Vitalize 360 look like for patients and residents of a retirement community?

The Vitalize 360 program essentially starts with changing the conversation, as Allen and Gasink outlined, and includes more than just a physician-patient relationship.

Individuals create a Vitality Plan, a personalized well-being roadmap that guides the achievement of self-identified goals. The Vitality Plan may support existing activities or inspire new achievements. Information about the person is gathered using two evidence-based assessment tools —the Lifestyle Survey and the Health and Social Check-up —and entered into a Web-based software system.

"The initial conversation and visit will be had with the fitness instructor that's on the team at the Riverside Wellness Center right here in Newport News," Gasink said. "She will be the lead coach with the patients and sharing the information with the interdisciplinary team."

The Lifestyle Survey is self-administered and captures the person's preferences and satisfaction with current activities. The Health and Social Check-up includes items in four key areas: community and social life, cognition and mental health, getting around in everyday life, and health. Information compiled from these two tools and the Vitality Plan are documented and used for community tracking, benchmarking and quality improvement. The assessments are also being integrated with the annual Medicare wellness visit. 

Gasink has access to all of these Vitality Plans and can put it into context for each patient alongside their medical conditions.

The Web-based software supports the larger operations, and allows staff to record information and all the touch points along the way.

Results of Vitalize 360

The first 40 residents from Warwick Forest will go through the process in 2017 and Gasink will be recording and analyzing the data.

Also, Gasink will be working on the retirement campus to help change the conversation, the culture, of how residents set goals, how Riverside team members approach their care and ensuring people begin to ask more what's matters to residents.

"It's going to be a big year," Gasink said. "It's going to be exciting."

ABOUT EMMELINE GASINK, M.D.:

Emmeline Gasink, M.D. received her B.S. in Biology at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg and earned her medical degree at the Eastern Virginia Medical School. She completed her family medicine residency in 2007 with the Virginia Commonwealth University-Riverside Family Medicine program. As part of the Virginia Medical Scholarship Program, she practiced family medicine in an underserved area of Virginia prior to practicing exclusively in geriatric medicine in 2010. To learn more about Gasink visit www.riversideonline.com

ABOUT WARWICK FOREST:

Warwick Forest is one of three Riverside Health System Continuing Care Retirement Communities. Located in Newport News, Va. on the Yorktown border, Warwick Forest offers multiple levels of care –from independent living to nursing –for residents 60 and older. On average, research shows that residents living in a continuing care retirement community that offers amenities like those at Warwick Forest enjoy an average of seven healthier years. Warwick Forest's amenities include, among others, indoor saltwater pool, fitness gym, exercise classroom, tavern and bistro and a theater. Learn more about Warwick Forest at www.warwickforest.com.

Published: December 21, 2016