Guttenberg Care Center introduces holistic health practices

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Diane Loeffelholz (left) and Joyce Horstman traveled with Guttenberg Care Center residents to visit Nature Haven Farm in Garnavillo. The farm, operated by Kay and Vic Vifian, will provide edible flowers, squash, corn, herbs, berries, and melons for meals at the Care Center. (Photo submitted)

By Molly Moser

Aromatherapy. Reflexology. Massage therapy. Sounds more like a spa day than a nursing home, right? Wrong. The Guttenberg Care Center, with support from owner ABCM Corporation, has embarked on a journey to incorporate holistic health into the many options available to residents. Music and art therapy, tai chi, meditation, and locally grown foods are among the many facets of the care center’s holistic health plan.

“Holistic Health is the next logical approach for us in expanding the fundamentals of Person Directed Care. It is our responsibility to enrich resident’s lives while managing their medical care,” said marketing coordinator Jane Staebler. A stakeholder group formed last year consulted with the Maharishi University in Fairfield, Luther College in Decorah, and Mercy Hospital in Cedar Rapids. “We’ve learned through visiting some of these places that although it’s becoming more common, holistic health is still very foreign in the nursing home community,” Staebler told The Press.

Where traditional medicine focuses on an illness or a specific part of the body, holistic health considers the whole person, emphasizing the connection of mind, body, and spirit. Doctors are working with the Guttenberg Care Center to incorporate holistic health modalities that can help reduce pain, anxiety, agitation, depression, and insomnia. 

Care center staff have already seen results from Quease EASE aromatherapy sticks meant to alleviate nausea. The marker-sized sticks are reusable and can be twisted open and closed to release a stomach-soothing peppermint scent. 

A full-time ABCM Corp music therapist, based in Guttenberg, will incorporate music and musical activities to address physical, emotional, cognitive, and social needs in individual or group settings. The therapy can be targeted specifically at managing stress, expressing feelings, encouraging movement, and more. Art therapy, also offered at the care center, has similar results and is receiving very positive feedback at the Guttenberg Care Center. 

The care center kitchen has recently been redesigned to allow more space for the preparation of whole foods. New appliances, like a large convection oven for baking whole foods and a vegetable steamer, have been purchased. Local grower Kay Vifian of Nature Haven Farm in Garnavillo has met with care center dieticians to determine a growing plan to help the kitchen meet its goal of increasing local food on the menu. The 2015 goal is to make locally grown food 1% of total food served, and each year that percentage is expected to increase. 

One resident’s son works for John Deere and has offered to donate crops from test plots to the Guttenberg Care Center. Details are being worked out by ABCM registered dieticians and ISU Extension Food Value Chain Coordinator.

“I am amazed at the professionals and other resources we have available right at our fingertips. It is so exciting to be able to offer locally grown food. Many of our residents grew up and raised their families on food from their garden or farm,” Staebler commented. 

According to Staebler, Dr. Jeff Hoffmann is excited about the use of tai chi and eventually yoga with residents. Currently, Nancy Trobridge teaches tai chi classes monthly at the Care Center. The therapeutic providers are licensed in their individual fields to ensure best practices. 

“We’re always thinking of the next generation,” said Staebler, explaining that research is now showing the benefits of holistic practices. “This new approach is a collective effort. Guttenberg Care Center residents will benefit from more choices and healthier options, and local growers will benefit as well.”

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