Cape Cod Disability Network Wellness Program: Growth and Successes

This Spring, Latham Centers, Arc of Cape Cod and Community Connections joined forces to provide adult residents within each of our programs the opportunity to improve upon his or her health. This program was funded by CHNA 27 (Community Health Network), part of the Cape Cod Foundation.
Adult residents sign up for as many as four of the following programs: Smoking Cessation, Staying in Shape, Healthy Eating, and Hygiene/Wellness. Each resident signs a Positive Behavioral Support Plan which outlines his or her goals, how he or she plans on maintaining/accomplishing these goals, and an incentive once these goals are achieved. The incentives, as well as speakers to teach our residents, are paid for by those at CHNA. We are proud to announce amazing success stories from each of these segments of the program as we reach the halfway point of the grant cycle.
Physical Fitness: The Physical Fitness part of the grant received the most interest! Many of the goals pertain to distances and frequency of physical activity. Examples are: “One half hour of exercise three times a week,” “I will walk around the house every 15 to 20 minutes instead of just sitting on my bed or in a chair,” “Do my scheduled physical therapy twice every day,” “Go to the gym three times a week,” and “Take a walk three times a week and eat healthy meals daily.” Some of the participants in this program have lost as much as 25 pounds and are now attending the gym three times a week as planned. A surprise to us is that a few of the residents from Latham, Arc of Cape Cod, and Community Connections have even designated their incentive as “gym membership.”
We have seen the participants thrive once they’ve realized that by consistently working out and improving themselves they can receive rewards for their successes. Examples of this are gym memberships, as well as gift cards to area businesses, and iPod Touches.
Smoking Cessation: We have noticed that all those who have signed up for the Smoking Cessation segment of this grant have done incredibly well! Greg*, for example, started this grant cycle smoking a carton of cigarettes a month. His goal was to cut down to 4 packs a month. Since August, when his Positive Behavioral Support Plan was complete with goals, he has cut down to his objective of just one pack a week. The incentive of traveling to Canobie Lake Park, with a Latham Centers staff person has served as a catalyst unlike any other we have seen at Latham Centers. Another example of success within the Smoking Cessation part of this grant is at Community Connections. Annie* has successfully cut down to only one cigarette during day-program. Her ultimate goal is to quit. This is encouraging for staff because for many years they have been trying to work with these adult residents on smoking cessation with limited success. For the first time we have found something to make a large difference in lowering and/or omitting cigarette consumption.
Healthy Eating: Increased exercise and improved eating habits go hand in hand. This part of the Wellness Grant encourages individuals to take into consideration what they are currently eating and what they should be eating. Interestingly, many of the clients who are participating in Healthy Eating are also signed up for Physical Fitness. Life Coaches and Residential Managers have established the clear link between the two parts of the program. All of the individuals who signed up for Healthy Eating through Latham Centers have been diagnosed with Prader-Willi Syndrome. This means that they never feel full (insatiable appetite) and can over-eat without any hesitation. By enrolling in the Healthy Eating part of this Wellness Grant it enables them to take a larger role in their eating habits as they research healthy food and proportion management. Staff from Arc of Cape Cod have seen tremendous change as their participants are not just going shopping for food, but rather are going shopping for “healthy” food with the support of staff. Clients are filling carts with items that will help them to reach their weight loss goals.
Improved Hygiene/Wellness: Latham Centers, Arc of Cape Cod and Community Connections are frequently challenged by assisting individuals with developmental disabilities to maintain healthy dental, lifestyle, and hygiene habits. Through the incentives offered in this grant, we have seen a variety of improvements. Goals have ranged from “Keep my room free of trash and clutter (fire safety concerns),” to “Wear my glasses to Day Program and around the house (safety concerns!),” to “Brush my teeth at least two times daily (without being prompted).” Because of the incentives offered, clients are taking accountability of their personal and hygiene habits as they have a goal to which they are striving.
*Names have been changed to protect privacy

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