Senior Centers provide an immense value to the individuals and communities they serve

Being active in a Center provides seniors a social outlet, which reduces depression and can delay cognitive decline, a place to exercise, which reduces the risk of falling and have immense health benefits, and meals and nutrition classes, which can allow seniors to stay independent longer and maintain a healthy weight. For many seniors without family nearby, Center staff can quietly help monitor guests and help them seek resources, such as social workers or home health support, when needed. Medicaid pays for four out of five nursing home residents, so with more community resources available to seniors to keep them living healthy, safe, and independent lives, less strain is placed on an already groaning system.

The Bernice Fontenau Senior Wellness Center has long served the senior citizens of Ward 1 in the District of Columbia. Offering everything from fitness to nutrition classes, computer training to quilting circles, this Center serves as a community hub for DC seniors and it truly is incredible to see how many benefits and programs offered there despite their shoestring budget. Untold Research saw the amazing service this Center provides to the community and offered to help ensure their offerings align with the needs of the guests and, more importantly, to help capture and measure the impact of their life-changing work.

Untold Research crafted a survey that was distributed to Center visitors to gauge their overall satisfaction with the Center and its offerings as well as express which classes or programs were their favorite and if they would like different or more frequently-offered programs. The role the Center plays in the lives of the seniors it serves is invaluable, as evidenced by the four in five (80%) seniors who say the Center is their only outlet for fitness, the two-thirds (65%) who say the Center serves them lunch three or more times a week, or the two in four (39%) who say the Center is their primary source of social interaction. Untold Research analyzed the collected data and made strategic recommendations to the Center’s leadership for how the survey results could be used in grant-writing to demonstrate the value the Center has on the vulnerable population it serves. But we didn’t stop there…

Untold Research constructed a database and data collection protocols so each visitor’s health indicators would be captured periodically throughout the year to determine if regular attendance at the Center had a positive (or any) impact at all.  While there are many caveats to the findings (data collection has only been over the course of one year, only 19 cases have three or more data points to analyze, etc.), some exciting trends are emerging: (1) the more nutrition classes a person attends at the Senior Center, the more likely their nutrition status is to improve and (2) two in five (39%) Senior Center attendees are now taking less medication than when their first measurement was taken.

Untold Research will continue to monitor the data coming in from the Bernice Fontenau Senior Center to see how the trends progress. For now, it’s encouraging to see the collected data has the potential to make a meaningful change in terms of bringing more attention and (hopefully) resources to this Center doing such important work for the senior citizens of Washington D.C.