New Program Increases Residents’ Levels of Joy at The Willows at Westborough
Personalized Exercise Program Director and Certified Holistic Coach at The Willows at Westborough, Dawna Salkiewicz, is bringing Residents in the community some joy this year through her JOY Workshop.
The six-week series is designed to increase individuals’ “joy levels” and in turn, help people through the more difficult aspects of life.
Salkiewicz explains that the group meets once a week for a one-hour session. On the first day, she provides participants with a workbook and details what the joy-acclimation process is. “It’s an open conversation to better understand how to embrace joy—many residents in these communities may be suffering a loss, they may feel lonely or they may have health concerns; this program aims to show them that they are in charge of how they feel about these situations and that they can choose joy,” says Salkiewicz.
Salkiewicz teaches joy meditation and new techniques to achieve joy each week. “After each session, I assign participants some light homework,” explains Salkiewicz. “Keeping a gratitude journal is just one of the assignments that helps residents continue to recognize and seek joy in their lives outside of our sessions. When we meet the following week, we complete the assignment by sharing our experiences and discussing the difficult things people are going through.”
“It’s been so well received,” says Salkiewicz. “I never intended to bring this program to the SALMON communities; I’m a holistic coach outside my role at The Willows and shared the program with individuals seeking it out. When I was at The Willows at Worcester, I tried implementing the workshop there, and it was so well received that when I moved to Westborough, I brought it along with me.”
“There’s already a waiting list!” exclaims Salkiewicz. “Although we’re meeting in smaller groups this year, there were a ton of people who signed up—I’m going to try to do another session sometime in January.”
Resident Patricia Betz completed the JOY program last year after moving to The Willows at Westborough. “Westborough was new to me, and other residents were quieter than I was used to,” explains Betz. “I was having a hard time adjusting.”
“The JOY program helped me find my mental ‘comfort place.’ In times of stress, I have been able to seek out joy and ways to relax,” says Betz. “It’s also helped me open up more—through this program, I realized that I find joy in making other people laugh or smile. I’m an avid knitter and started to make hats for other residents and staff members, and I’ve made a point to say ‘Hi’ to everyone I pass.”
Salkiewicz explains, “The overall goal of the program is to create a ‘joy plan’ for participants as they move forward in their lives. How can participants continue to choose joy when life gets hard? That’s what I teach.”
“This year in particular has been challenging,” says Betz. “I have health issues and have had to take extra precaution during this pandemic. The JOY program has helped me focus on my mental health.” Betz continues, “Dawna is an amazing woman; some people are gifted, and she truly makes other people feel cared for and in control of their own lives. The program saved my life.”
Since 1952, SALMON Health and Retirement has been serving Central Massachusetts. SALMON’s Beaumont at Worcester community became the nation’s first COVID-19 recovery center for seniors. To learn more about SALMON’s continuum of care with services on multiple campuses and the way in which the organization is fighting COVID-19 head-on, visit www.SalmonHealth.com or call (508)-366-4730.