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CW 132: Kathryn Wyatt

Improving health and longevity in aging adults is key, and there is great importance in providing occupational, speech, and physical therapy for seniors. Kathryn Wyatt, Division VP of Senior Living at Peak Senior Living by Functional Pathways, discusses the focus on wellness and the impact it produces.

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Kathryn

Just showing up, right? Showing up to the table and showing up at the meeting to say, let’s lay it all out there. And let’s, let’s do what’s best for the resident.

00:08

Welcome to the contributor Wednesday series on the Bridge the Gap Network. This series is sponsored by Peak Senior Living by Functional Pathways. Each week you’ll hear from a thought leader discussing topics that are relevant and impactful to the senior living industry.

Lucas 00:22

Welcome to Bridge the Gap, the Senior Living podcast with Josh and Lucas on a Contributor Wednesday special edition. We wanna welcome a good friend and one of our key sponsors here for Contributor Wednesday. Wanna welcome Kathryn Wyatt. You’re the divisional Vice President of Peak Senior Living by Functional Pathways. Welcome to the show.

Kathryn 00:40

Thank you so much. It’s so good to see y’all and spend some time with you again.

Lucas 00:44

Exactly, exactly. Last time we were all together, I believe we were in, I think it’s your hometown Nashville, correct?

Kathryn 00:50

Yeah. Correct. Yeah. Such a great conference. I really enjoyed that. Such a great time to get together, and now that everything’s opening up, everybody was buzzing around, so it was, it was a great few days.

Lucas 1:02

No doubt. No doubt. Nashville’s a lot of fun. And it’s always great to have conversations, with you, Kathryn. And, you know, today on Contributor Wednesday, you know, one of the great things about our Wednesday weekly shows is that it offers an opportunity for a diverse audience and diverse topics, diverse hosts, to come on and give their point of views around different topics related to the senior living industry. And you guys are certainly very passionate about this industry. For our audience that has been seeing like, “Oh yeah, Functional pathways,  Peak Senior Living, like, I’ve been seeing that they sponsor this great content.” Give them your kind of just a basic overview of what you guys provide to the senior living industry.

Kathryn 1:50

Sure. So, you know, we’ve been in a senior living industry for quite some time now, and so we provide traditional outpatient PT, OT, speech therapy in assisted living, independent living communities, life plan communities. But, you know, we also have a wellness division where we really focus on those dimensions of wellness and, you know, uniquely offer some activities, some elevated activities. And you know the core of what we do is really following that resident through the continuum of care because, you know, sometimes landscapes are changing and we’re seeing some acuity increase and a lot of active individuals out there. And so we just we want to walk with them on their journey and make sure that we are there every step of the way. So that’s and partnering with incredible people and, and communities out there that we’re all focused on the resident.

Lucas 2:52

That is exciting and, and so important, our mission here at Bridge Gap is to educate, inform, and influence. And you guys obviously value that as well and helping bring this type of content to our audience. So as we dive into some of these important issues around the wellbeing, this kind of wellness movement that’s happening in old, with older adults, you know, what role do fitness tests play in evaluating the needs of a resident population and how are those used to start short term? And how are you using those short term and long term?

Kathryn 3:31

Yeah, so the fitness test, you know, back in the day when I was trying to be a great runner and a marathoner and going through fitness tests and they’re, you know, trying to decide what kind of minute mile I can run, I’m not sure I wanna be tested on that. However, these senior fit tests that we provide and conduct in our communities, they are a tool for our residents. They’re a great way to look at a lot of different areas. And what I love about the test is that there’s immediate feedback for the residents. And it’s, it’s an easy way to see it. You know, there’s reporting that comes out of that. There’s bar graphs to show them is a really, like a total assessment, whole body assessment. And it shows these areas that we may not even pick up on.

Kathryn 4:24

You know, they may not even see that they’re struggling in an area or maybe getting from their apartment to the dining room, but it allows us to see those little bitty minuscule declines that if we can jump in and, and help them and talk to them, it’s all about education. Let’s tell them where they’re at, and then they can decide, you know, they’re their best advocate and what are their goals? Do they, do, they wanna feel better and they wanna pop out of bed a little bit easier and get down to the dining room to hang out with their friends? And so we can intervene and maybe at that point it is therapy, maybe it’s some PT or maybe it’s a wellness class, you know, maybe it’s not, “Oh, you really don’t need us right now. You could probably go to this wellness class. Or what about the aqua flow class that they have, you know, the water aerobic?” And that’s a great way to, you know, focus on these areas. And over time, when we do that a couple times a year or year over year, we can see how they are functioning in their community, though that’s really the short term way that we use those. But long term, we are able to provide our partners with how we are doing on campus, how engaged our residents are, how are they’re, how are they functioning last year, and then how are they functioning this year? And that may really spark a great conversation to say, “Why don’t we renovate this area over here and make this a more common space, and they can come and hang out and, you know, we can create more movement and more socialization to get them out of the room and walking more?”

Kathryn 6:09

And so it really, it’s a individual test, but it speaks volumes to how we can walk through that journey with the residents and that continuum of care. So it’s, they’re really fun. It’s interesting because there are some residents who, they demand therapy because they see a little bitty area that they may be declining in, and they’re fearful, they’re fearful of, “I don’t want to let that go because I really don’t wanna be in my room more than I have to be.” And I don’t wanna lose that skill. So that’s where that education piece comes in and just making them aware and often they will opt for the more invasive, the more intense therapy to get back on track. It’s pretty cool to see.

Josh 7:01

Kathryn, you talked about a couple different things there with the tests and the education and how you guys are part of that. So break that down a little bit. Practically, the partnership with the community and, you know, I’m assuming communities are all different, teams are all different, but how do you guys integrate with a local team and a local community to kind of ensure there’s this continuity of care and communication? Can you kind of break that down for us?

Kathryn 7:34

Yes, absolutely. I’m so glad you asked that, because this is one area that I am very passionate about in leading this division is, first things first, our residents are there and they need all of us, and they need all of our attention. They need our attention, the facilities attention. And then next steps are when we engage with partners and we develop this relationship, we are very specific on, “What does our program need to look like? What do you all need from us and what do we need from you all? And how does that look?” Like you said, a lot of facilities are unique and they have values and they have specific focuses in their facility. We wanna make sure that we deliver and that we are a partner. And so we develop a program with our partners for that campus, for those residents, for the activity level that they’re at, and the opportunities that are there on campus.

Kathryn 8:40 

And so it’s really unique and we can customize that. That is what, you know, Functional Pathways, you know, Peak Senior Living. We are very focused on customizing our programming for the residents in the facility. So we start our relationship there. It’s “What are our expectations?” and let’s just put ’em all on the table. Let’s identify where, where we’re gonna start. And then every quarter we talk about it. And there’s, like I said, that senior fit test data, outcomes data, client survey data, meaning our residents survey expectations and results. And we just say, “Hey, this is working, this is not working. What do we want it to look like for the next quarter in the next year?” And that’s been really rewarding as a partner, because we are an asset. You know, we want to be a family and we wanna be connected and working together in synchrony. So, and it’s a lot of just showing up, right? Showing up to the table and showing up at the meeting to say, “Let’s lay it all out there and let’s do what’s best for the resident.” And we know the facilities, that’s their vision, that’s our vision. And so that’s been rewarding to see how our programs have developed in our communities to meet that.

Josh 10:02

Well, I’m sure some of our listeners, because it’s a very broad group, all different types of communities across the country. I’m sure some of this has definitely sparked attention and I’m certain there’s some out there that maybe haven’t had a formal actual wellness program in place or a partner to help them manage and implement a wellness program, per se. Maybe they’re just partnered with, you know, home health or something coming in for the different therapies. But for the provider out there that thinking, “Man, I would really like to implement a program like this,” what are some of the first steps in even planning? Is it, are they immediately ruled out if they don’t have a large wellness gym or a pool or aquatic center? Or are there certain things they need to have in place before they would even contact someone like you?

Kathryn 10:57)

You know, the only thing they need in place is passion for the resident. We can do anything. Again, it’s not about seeing what we can’t do, it’s about seeing what can we do? And there’s always a way. You know, some facilities don’t have the aquatic center that you’re talking about or a gym for us to be in, but everybody has a resident and residents need help and they want help. And so we, that’s again, where we come in and say, “What is it that you have at your community? And let’s figure out how to make this work.” You’re right, they may only have home health. They may not have something in place now, but that’s where our expertise comes in. We have many, many years of experience. We have a lot of resources. We’ve got a robust clinical team, and we’ve got specific programs that we can implement and we can develop new programs.I mean, the sky is the limit. We also partner with home health. So yes, we offer PT, OT, speech, but we can also partner with home health and use those same therapists in that facility. So the residents are comfortable. They get used to those therapist and they learn them and they become part of the family. And, you know, the residents grandkids come and they come down to the gym or, you know, they see us in the hallway. And so that consistency is really key. And that’s really important. We can bring in wellness and therapy, we can just provide therapy. We’ve got activities as well. So ultimately, it’s not about what the facility has or doesn’t have. It’s what do we wanna do for the residents and how do we make that happen? And I’m really proud to be part of a company that we can customize that and we work together and we’ve got that personal touch. So it’s, many facilities look different. And so I, you know, I never want somebody to think, “Oh gosh, we don’t have that. We’re not state of the art. You know, we’ve got an old building.” Because that’s out there. We have a lot. There’s are a lot of old buildings. And man, that WiFi, that’s hard to go through those concrete blocks, but we make it work somehow. And it’s incredible to see the residents light up and really work with them and get to know them

Josh 13:23

Well, you know, Kathryn, it’s awesome to have Peak as a partner, just providing so much education through our contributor program on Wednesdays. We have a powerhouse group. Through your kind and generous contribution to the industry, you’re not only helping to improve longevity for our residents and overall wellness, but you’re powering education for all of our listeners, so me and Lucas are so appreciative of the investment you’ve made into the industry and what an awesome opportunity it is to be able to provide that to the industry.

Kathryn 14:07

Yeah, you know, again, we appreciate everything you guys do to create the platform. I mean, to create the opportunity to have voices out there. And as this industry is evolving and as we keep revolving around the sun, it’s, you know, we need everybody. And it takes all of us. You know, it takes all of us to reach residents and to provide the care and give back. I mean, I just keep thinking, my goodness, you know, so many people have gone before me and us, and so, you know, what a great way to continue, you know, serving others. And so, no, we appreciate being partnered with you guys. And thank you for allowing us to do that.

Josh 14:52

Lucas, you know, the last thought I have is on these fit tests, I’m feeling like, you know, we’re kind of getting through these holiday seasons. You might wanna line up for one of these fit tests and benchmark yourself for longevity, right?

Lucas 15:06

I already know the answer. There’s no need

Kathryn 15:09

That what I was talking about earlier. Sometimes I don’t wanna know those results. And like I said, the residents are – when we have that cognitive component in there, that’s where they really tap in and the you know, are like, “I can’t lose my memory. I can’t do that. You gotta come in and help me.” So it’s great. It’s really good. It’s good to provide that education. 

Lucas 15:35

Well, we appreciate the passion, we appreciate the support here on the Contributor Wednesday program and to all of our listeners that get to enjoy this content. If you wanna see more content and more shows, go to btgvoice.com and you can download our information there. Also connect with us on social, be a part of the conversation. Kathryn, thank you so much for spending time with us today.

Kathryn 15:56

Absolutely. So great to see you all. Thank you.

Lucas 15:59

And thanks to all of our listeners for listening to another great episode of Bridge the Gap.

16:04

Thanks for listening to the Contributor Wednesday series on the Bridge the Gap Network, sponsored by Peak Senior living by Functional Pathways. For a full library of episodes, visit btgvoice.com.

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CW 132: Kathryn Wyatt