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Pop-up Wellness Lounge & Coordinator Supporting Healthy Communities Updated

Pop-up Wellness Lounges can be a great place to connect and learn from others in the community as well as support activities that gets us closer to leading healthy lives. The Wellness Coordinator can assist and provide resources to get us there.

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I was inspired by articles that reported how older people in China gathered in IKEA stores because they wanted a comfortable space to hang out and meet other people. Although it became a strain on IKEA at times, it suggests this type of place is currently missing, especially for the aging community. " Shanghai has become an aging society with many single senior citizens," Shao says. " They need to make friends, they feel lonely at home. So what IKEA does is laudable, and we wish IKEA's business will prosper. I am thankful for IKEA's tolerance toward us." - http://www.npr.org/2011/11/02/141904803/at-ikea-in-shanghai-do-it-yourself-matchmaking

This concept also gives Mayo Clinic a role to play. Mayo Clinic would sponsor pop-up shop like spaces called Wellness Lounge in either vacant storefronts neighborhoods or in community spaces such as libraries or schools to bring people together. This space is designed to be inviting that offers a communal area to meet others in the community, promote conversations and ultimately a comfortable place away from home to learn more about taking care of our health. The space would be in a centralized location that people from different parts of the community can come. People would be encouraged to activate, learn and transform the space. In doing some research, there are have been examples of health pop-ups in malls, but they are selling their services rather than providing services.

The Wellness Coordinator role would be crucial in developing programming for the space and this person would be trained to answer health-related questions and point people to the best resources. Programming would include demonstrations and classes, organized talks from people such health providers, authors, chefs, teachers, caregivers and retired professionals to share their experiences stories, skills and passion.

This lounge would be similar to what Jamie Oliver set up in neighborhoods in his show Food Revolution. He established a community kitchen space in a vacant spaces, which I think some still operate today and serves not only locals, but visitors from around world. Here's one to kitchen in Huntington, WV. Instead of putting in a full kitchen, it could accommodate a bar that serves healthy smoothies and snacks.

The Wellness Lounges could scale by piloting the program that happens in a couple of cities at first and tweaked along the way. If it is well received in the area, the temporary pop-up could be established as a longer-term community-run Wellness Lounge with proper funding and support. this is a nice way to extend Mayo Clinic's great work that often people may not have the chance to visit the main headquarters. Being able to outreach with people who don't check in with their healthy regularly is important.

I recently talked to Arthur Ashe Institute in Brooklyn and learned about their amazing work. They provide health information and materials to help barber shops and salons talk to their customers about taking care of their health and learn what services are available such as free screenings. In a way, barbers and stylists are wellness outreach coordinators. They are providing important information in a comfortable and relaxed space that was not clinical by any means. This space is the usual time where free conversations take place. Having more advocates likes these in communities is a great way to get out the message: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/brooklyn/healthy-conversation-brooklyn-salon-article-1.310733

Another great example of pop-up space to active collaboration and learning is the Chicago Public Library. Last month, they announced a Maker's Lab that includes a 3D printer, various software and classes to teach people about manufacturing and encourage hands-on collaboration. Although this is not a lounge, it's nice to see a space that is typically known for being supporting individual knowledge through books and media to other forms of learning.

How to Measure Our Health

In thinking about what is most important in our lives, I thought about some areas on a broader scale that we work towards in one way or other. Some areas are emphasized more while others need more attention. Building off of Mayo Clinic's Halo Factors and Michael's concept called BEAM, I developed something similar. The idea is that there are important areas to maintain throughout our life can start early and adjust as we age. I think there are many overlaps and look forward to collaborating and building upon or leveraging the platform that was already proposed!

These are the areas that Mayo Clinic and the Wellness Coordinator can help support in person:

Healthy aging is something we all need to rethink in our lives regardless of age. To make sure we are paying more attention to our well being, I felt there are 5 areas that after some research could be highlighted more than the obvious groupings that exist. These areas may be more present and important depending on who you are, age, where you live and your interests. These areas include: community, self-worth, activeness, empowerment and well-being.

Community: can be a group of friends, family and/or people in your community that live nearby and all have a common interest of improving their own well being as well as area that we reside in. Being involved with your community can strengthen your relationships; provide a sense of ownership and investment to the people and places that we live in builds better communities.The more we care about our community, the more positive effects it provides to us as individuals and a group. This is important throughout our lives, but maybe more so when we have families and when we age. Many people may experience empty nest and want a way to connect with others again. Another way we may want to engage with community is not only social, but politically or actively. Creating a space like the Wellness Lounge can be a meeting place for many people looking to get more involved or just meet one another. I think co-working spaces are popular because sometimes you just don't want to work alone and be in the presence of others. We also experience different stages in our life and have different social needs. Being aware of that will help us be more engaged.

In any community, there are people who are looking to meet new people and have a conversation, especially those who do not have family nearby or working on integrating back into the community. Volunteers can signup and be paired with people in nearby nursing homes and those in rehabilitation. A past project I was part of piloted coffee shop conversations with those who suffered from a stroke and aphasia for seven weeks. We met with those who wanted to practice their public speaking skills in coffee shops because it was less clinical and more comfortable setting. Overtime, we developed friendships, patience and helped build confidence in conversational skills on both sides.

Progress & Well-being: is about being active on any level that contributes to our overall well-being. Being active is very important throughout our lives from a young age and as we age. Activity usually decreases over our lifetime and especially, now many of us are use to working in front of a computer screen all day that we forgot or don’t have the time to be physically active. Being active is not just about healthy physical activity, but also emotional and mental activities. We saw from the inspiration phase that playing video and board games are fun and build our mental acuity and memory. To make sure we engage actively, we can leverage many health tracking apps and trackers that record our activities of all kinds to tell us about our progress. These all can be aggregated into a platform so no matter what activity you are doing whether it is physically running a mile, taking a language class, cooking a meal at home for others, cleaning the house or reading for an hour, they are all activities and strides in our progress and well-being. You can set goals, compete with your close friends and also show this relevant information to the Wellness Coordinator. 

Self-worth & Empowerment: are very important to our health. We all have something to offer and given the opportunity, we have all something to share with others and feel appreciated for our talents and who we are. The pop-up Wellness Lounge is space for people to share their stories and talents in a communal and safe place. In a past project, I worked with Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, specifically with people who suffered from a stroke and aphasia. To help them integrate back into the community, we developed a program that allowed for people who wanted to practice their speaking and presenting skills. They presented to an audience on various topics such as their recent trip to Turkey or their work experience in the government. You could see how empowered they were and how much fun it was to exchange knowledge. Another aspect of self-worth is knowing our comfortable level especially as we age. We sometimes know when we push ourselves to far physically or emotionally. Being aware of these things will help us all age to the best of our ability. Connecting with the wellness coordinator can help us plan for that as well.

How might your idea scale and spread to reach as many people as possible?

The pop-up Wellness Lounges would start in a couple of cities to test to see what works and what needs improvement. Working with the Mayo Clinic to develop a program and the Wellness Coordinator role would be important before scaling the Wellness Lounge. I think we would be able to test areas close to Mayo Clinic locations that provide comfortable spaces that people can hang out. The opportunity for the Wellness Coordinator has a lot of potential to make an impact and connect Mayo Clinic to more people in communities that don't have regular access to healthcare needs or even community centers.

A recent article highlighting abandoned Walmart spaces transformed into now America's Largest Library shows how spaces can really be redefined and support communities:
http://img.weburbanist.com/wp-content/webistcache/2012/09/04/abandoned-walmart-is-now-americas-largest-library/index.html

Building upon other ideas, a platform that connects your health information is definitely a trend. Making sure people are able to use whatever app they feel comfortable with. The platform to aggregate current health app trackers such as Nike+, jawbone, strava, pedometer into a system that allows you to keep track of your progress and create visualized graphs and progress charts that you can share with the Wellness Coordinator and healthcare providers.

Additionally, partnering with the local public transportation to create a stop at the Wellness Lounge will being more people to the center. A dedicated mobile van could be possible from the hospital to make certain stops such as local nursing home, school, downtown, the hospital and the Wellness Lounge.

How might your idea attract and involve partners from health care, business, government, nonprofit or other sectors?

Partnerships are always great and working with other organizations in the local community can extend the outreach of the Wellness Lounge. Partners from other healthcare providers where Mayo Clinic doesn't exist can be beneficial for both parties and the people they serve as they have more options and resources. Working with local communities to help identify spaces that could be converted is key. Many of the space amenities would be sponsored to help with the costs.

There is a lot more interest and investment in taking care of yourselves as we age, especially as the number of people over 65 in the US currently is 40 million. In 2030, that number will have skyrocketed to nearly 70 million (Mayo Clinic Interview). This also means we have a lot of healthcare costs. I believe there are opportunities to get initial funding from both nonprofit and businesses interested in healthcare. In the end, the cost of not addressing the issues early on outweigh the actual costs to our country.

A great place to is Hacking Medicine Initiative: http://hackingmedicine.mit.edu/2012/03/06/health-challenges-the-open-government-initiative/
As well as Rock Health: http://rockhealth.com/

How might you design an early experiment or prototype to further develop your idea?

Putting together a fun and inviting space that is not clinical would be a fun prototype to test as well as the role of the Wellness Coordinator. By bodystorming and acting out the Wellness Lounge would work could lead us to develop better ideas and empathy for people who would use the space. Developing a blueprint or experience map would be another opportunity to see what areas of the experience still have big questions to answer and how logistically the concept would work.

Interviewing practitioners, patients and caregivers is another way to get some insight into the pop-up wellness lounge. I interviewed a patient who suffered from a stroke who was in rehab and the biggest challenge besides rehab is combating loneliness. Definitely an opportunity to make a welcoming space!

Because it's a pop-up, it would be great to connect and prototype with MiLES from the vibrant cities concept: http://www.openideo.com/open/vibrant-cities/realisation/power-to-the-pop-up
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any update ?

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