four people looking at a tablet computer

From left: Parker Health Group President and CEO Roberto Muniz, Watchung Terrace Executive Director Maquida Hanley, LivWell Program Manager Amanda Oberg and Springpoint President and CEO Anthony A. Argondizza celebrate the launch of the Affordable Housing Wellness Initiative.

A three-year pilot project by two nonprofit senior living providers in New Jersey aims to gauge the ability of specialized programming to improve the health and well-being of affordable senior housing residents, and its lessons ultimately could extend beyond the providers and beyond the Garden State.

Piscataway, NJ-based Parker Health Group and Wall Township, NJ-based Springpoint are launching the Affordable Housing Wellness Initiative in four Springpoint affordable senior housing communities: The Gables at West Windsor, Princeton Junction, NJ; Wheaton Pointe at East Windsor, East Windsor, NJ; Watchung Terrace at Middlesex, Middlesex, NJ; and Hidden Brook at Franklin, Somerset, NJ. The communities have a total of 410 residents, a Springpoint representative told McKnight’s Senior Living.

Over time, according to the partners, the program could be expanded to all 19 Springpoint affordable senior housing communities in New Jersey, which collectively serve approximately 2,000 adults aged 62 and older — and beyond.

“We hope this program will serve as a model and an inspiration for other organizations to provide supportive programs to vulnerable elders,” Parker Health Group President and CEO  Roberto Muñiz said in a statement.

The launch of the wellness initiative follows a 2020 survey conducted by Parker and Springpoint of residents of the Springpoint communities to determine the potential need for services and technology to improve their quality of life.

“Parker and Springpoint were discussing opportunities to collaborate prior to the pandemic; however, the pandemic required both organizations to temporarily pause efforts,” the companies told McKnight’s Senior Living in an email. “As the pandemic persisted, it reinforced the need for the Affordable Housing Wellness Initiative, as many affordable housing residents struggled with increased social isolation and reduced physical activity caused by the pandemic.”

Through the survey, the companies found a need for physical and mental well-being programming, especially programs to help combat isolation and depression, particularly among residents in their 80s. Also, more than 40% of the residents lacked sufficient access to the internet, which the partners thought was needed to help residents stay connected and engaged.

Now, Springpoint is managing the pilot program and using its whole-person wellness program, LivWell, which has been implemented in eight of its life plan communities. The LivWell program is based on a whole-person wellness model that strives to integrate and balance all dimensions of wellness — physical, emotional, social, intellectual, vocational, environmental and spiritual  — and includes individual health and well-being assessments, goal-setting and outcome-tracking.

“The philosophy of the LivWell program is to provide an opportunity to engage in experiences which support a high quality of life, personal choice, lifelong development and an optimal sense of well-being,” Springpoint President and CEO Anthony A. Argondizza said in a statement. “Together with Parker, we have the unique opportunity in a community setting to not only serve many individuals at once but to also have them support each other. Through the Affordable Housing Wellness Initiative, the staff and residents of these communities will work together with the ultimate goals of high quality of life and well-being as the cornerstones of their culture of wellness.” 

The pilot will focus on falls prevention, fitness and balance, nutrition, brain fitness and stress reduction.

The partners said they have made a “significant” investment in technology, implementing a digital communication platform and buying tablet computers to loan to residents, who may have transportation or mobility challenges. A specific dollar amount was not disclosed, but the companies told McKnight’s Senior Living that they received no outside funding for the purchases.

Parker and Springpoint will gauge the success of the program through surveys and feedback from residents as well as measurement of program attendance. These data will be used to guide the design of services and experiences as the program evolves.