Buck Shelford and Greenwich Gardens Resident

Legendary former All Black Buck Shelford has joined residents of Metlifecare’s Greenwich Gardens retirement village as they take on a programme which introduces a new approach to wellness for older people.

A joint initiative between Metlifecare and Auckland University of Technology (AUT) School of Sport and Recreation, theYour Best You programme integrates six dimensions of wellness – physical, social, intellectual, spiritual, emotional and vocational.

Health and wellbeing sit at the heart of Metlifecare’s philosophy which is focused on the premise that retirement is not the end of the road. Rather, there is more to come in retirement and all round wellness greatly enhances enjoyment of those years.

Metlifecare CEO, Glen Sowry, says the company saw an opportunity to further enhance and highlight its own extensive wellness offering by partnering with AUT.

“Many programmes for our residents’ age group typically focus only on physical and cognitive wellbeing. Partnering with AUT allows us to design a programme that balances all facets of wellness.”

Buck and Lorraine Sutherland_

“The resulting programme is exciting, innovative and, most importantly, is shaped by the residents themselves.”

The first phase of the programme, undertaken by 15 residents, began earlier in September, with a comprehensive pre-testing session using a series of objective measures around functional testing, along with a survey covering quality of life, wellness and cognition.

AUT School of Sport and Recreation never2old Programme Coordinator, Dave Hoskins, says he congratulates Metlifecare on its commitment to the wellness initiative and most importantly to their recognition that wellness is not one dimensional or formulaic. Residents choose which events they would like to participate in.

“The best outcomes will be achieved by the multi-dimensional approach and we’ve worked closely with Metlifecare and the village residents to develop the holistic programme. As a result we’ve added activities such as ‘Brain Games’ and yoga to support not only cognitive but also emotional and spiritual wellness. Our bush walks will provide spiritual and emotional benefits along with the obvious physical benefits.”

Other activities include specific vocational activities encouraging residents to work with their hands, to make things and to share experiences from their life.

“A great example is the bush walk and tree planting initiative in which a resident shares her knowledge about conservation, trees and fauna during the walks,” says Dave.

Buck and Lorraine Sutherland

“The first phase aims to further develop wellness initiatives run by the residents themselves.  It’s important we recognise the incredible 13,000+ years’ of life experience that exists in the village, a huge resource in itself.”

A series of weekly talks will get residents thinking about a variety of different topics. These will be delivered by a range of experts, including Metlifecare’s newly appointed Wellness Ambassador, legendary former All Black Wayne (Buck) Shelford who has joined the initiative to help highlight the importance of wellness at any age.

Buck says he is excited to be part of such a forward looking initiative. “Health and wellbeing is something I’ve been involved with pretty much throughout my adult life and has been especially important during my recent battles with cancer. I’m getting older, in fact I’m now into my 60s so recognise the need to stay on top of all round wellness.”

In addition to being a key speaker at the weekly seminar series, Buck has also joined in on a number of the other activity programmes.  “I’ve joined in the exercise classes, played golf and croquet and enjoyed the convivial company of the residents at the weekly happy hour.”

“We are thrilled Buck has agreed to become part of this programme and his involvement is clearly a drawcard, especially for the men,” says Glen. “They’ve already asked if we can ‘Bring back Buck’ for a boys-only coffee session.”

As the first four weeks drawn to an end, participants will be invited to undergo testing again and join focus groups to share their experiences. “We’ll analyse the data we gather, which will increase our knowledge and help us to further refine the programme,” says Dave.

“Our expectation is that residents will feel demonstrably better and that the range and variety of activities will become a regular part of their daily routine.”

Metlifecare plans to roll the programme out to its other 23 villages during 2019.

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