Live-Well: Strengthening Lives Together
Submitted By: Teri Czajka, Genevieve Hladysh and Rebecca Repa
The Live Well program began as an idea for a community healthcare model. An innovative partnership between the YMCA of Hamilton-Burlington-Brant, McMaster University and the Hamilton Health Sciences started with 2 programs (In Motion and Can Well). Over the past 5 years this has grown and flourished into eight distinct programs offered out of the YMCAs. Live Well represents how an innovative partnership has significantly influenced how we deliver community health care. The primary goal for Live Well is to promote “living well “, and accommodating for every person who participates in community based exercise programming. All the programs promote that people with chronic conditions can participate in exercise.
Live Well helps define what needs to remain in a hospital setting and what can be offered within the community. The supports provided through our HHS Allied Health staff are a major component for the Live Well programming. Health professionals are brought in to design the programming, train YMCA staff, educate members, and assist participants within the programs. It provides the “soft land” in the transitions pre and/or post hospital care. People can access these programs throughout the care continuum.
The result is that people no longer identify with being “sick” and receiving care at a hospital, they identify with being well and in the community for safe, supervised, exercise programming. From a chronic disease management perspective, it is keeping people healthy, keeping people in the community, and getting them out of an institutional setting. From a hospital perspective it is a sustainable resource that delivers programming to people closer to their homes, and it is inclusive.
Research shows that after illness people can become socially isolated. Live Well is a program that features group designed exercise, creates lasting relationships, and promotes and sustains participation. . The social inclusion may not be why members start, but it is definitely why they stay – and according to our statistics it is keeping them in programming above the norms associated with our other YMCA members. In addition participants can bring their families as the YMCA offers something for everyone.
Participants are members of the YMCA, and because the YMCA is a charity, they are able to offer financial support, so no patient is turned away due to finances. There is no discharge so participants are able to access the LiveWell programs for as long as they feel that they need to.
Staff at the YMCA, McMaster University and Hamilton Health Sciences are excited and passionate about these programs. We hope that you will be too.