Thank you to guest blogger Valerie Parker Callahan of Greater Lynn (MA) Senior Services for preparing this post. This article provides an overview of a unique, results-oriented program that promotes health and wellness at community pulse points.
The Kiosk for Living Well created by Greater Lynn (MA) Senior Services offer older adults easy access to information about community services and so much more! Users may come to the Kiosk seeking information about transportation options and find out about other community supports from which they could benefit. As the article below illustrates, transportation needs may also emerge as consumers seek assistance with other issues or simply use the Kiosk for recreation.
Travel Training and More
At 81 years old, Marianna R. had lived most of her life in Africa, but wanted very much to become a citizen of the United States since moving here five years ago. She had been coming to one of the Kiosks for Living Well in Lynn, MA for some time to work on falls prevention and mobility training. But when it became clear that Marianna was studying for the U.S. citizenship test, the Kiosk Advisor/Travel Trainer not only pitched in to help her study, but also helped her plan – and practice – the bus route she needed to take to get to the testing center quite some miles away in Boston. Marianna, although very nervous, easily passed the test and has become one of America’s newest citizens. She then proudly worked with the Kiosk’s Travel Trainer to attend the Citizen’s Oath Ceremony, also in Boston, and return back to the Kiosk in Lynn for a cupcake celebration with Kiosk staff and consumers.
When James F. first attended the Kiosk for Living Well located in the Senior Center of a Boston suburb, he was at a low point. Dealing with personal losses, forced to give up driving, and finding daily routines very burdensome, James ventured over to the Kiosk simply because “it looked like fun.” Once there, he became engaged in flying simulations and some coordination tests, but he also agreed to talk with an advisor about some of his concerns and, afterwards, to have his blood pressure monitored. The Community Health Worker explained to James that his blood pressure was much higher than it should have been and they began to talk about the medications he forgets to take and the very long time elapsed since his last primary care visit. Working with James, the Community Health Worker got him an appointment to see his PCP in the near term, explained the necessity for taking his medications, and later made a home visit to help him reconcile medications, prepare for the PCP visit and plan a simple but healthy menu. Meanwhile, the Kiosk Advisor successfully referred him for homemaker services and helped him secure medical transportation. After several visits to the Kiosk, James also began working with the Travel Counselor there to find ways to stay connected to the people and places that have meaning for him. Now the Kiosk is one of those places.
What is the Kiosk for Living Well?
Developed by Greater Lynn Senior Services (GLSS), Kiosks for Living Well are mobile, welcoming, and colorful physical spaces that easily embed in places where elders in the community naturally go, like community centers, health centers, elder housing complexes, and so forth. Each Kiosk has a large touch screen computer (Its Never2Late technology) with a myriad of fun activities like virtual bicycling, karaoke, puzzles, trivia games and so forth, as well as innovative health education and support modules (developed by GLSS) that are “bite-sized,” interactive, and that feature trackable quizzes and tip sheets. Each Kiosk also features an advisor trained in motivational listening and effective problem solving techniques, as well as staff that include nurses, community health workers, and kinesiologists.
What can folks like Marianna and James find at Kiosks?
Visitors to the Kiosk, which are generally open at set times during the week, can socialize and problem solve at the same time; they can participate in a variety of health screening programs and get connected to the services and supports –including to primary care — that they need for addressing daily living challenges; they can skype with family and friends or perhaps set up a portal to their medical records; they can learn how to navigate safely around their community and simultaneously reduce falls risks; they can connect with multiple mobility options; and they can – and most often do – become more engaged in thinking about and managing their overall health more effectively.
Travel Counselors offer mobility options based on a
continuously updated comprehensive inventory
of area mobility resources.
Mobility, including transportation and falls prevention supports, is a core element of the Kiosk and a social health determinant that often crosses multiple dimensions. Consumers are often more willing to seek help around a specific transportation problem, for example, than they are with other challenges. The Kiosk Advisors/Travel Counselors are trained to help them address specific issues through a broader lens that makes identifying other concerns easier. They also offer mobility options based on a continuously updated and comprehensive inventory of area mobility resources. Consequently, these conversations, based on principles of motivational listening, can quickly lead to the consumer’s willingness to problem-solve around related issues needing attention as well – such as social isolation, falls risks, housing challenges, family dynamics, health behaviors, and so on.
Changing Lives, One Visit at a Time
Since the first opening several years ago as part of a broader mobility management effort, area consumers have made nearly 25,000 visits to the Kiosks set up around several communities in Boston’s North Shore. Consumers participating in various health monitoring programs are carefully tracked and encouraged to sustain the gains. Many report greater confidence around traveling and better options for doing that, lowered blood pressures, better weight management, stronger balance and coordination, and more effective medication compliance. And, the Kiosks both refer – and receive referrals from – area health care providers around mobility as well as key health management issues.
The Kiosk for Living Well is building a strong case for the “fun theory.” A recent academic third-party study of the Kiosks overwhelmingly supports the idea that what brings people to the Kiosks is the prospect of having fun. But, once there, they find themselves easily engaging in a surprisingly wide range of health and mobility supports both at the Kiosk itself and through the referral networks the Kiosks can offer. Having fun, getting around better, and getting healthier is always a good combo and those are the reasons that many Kiosk consumers keep coming back.