BMA Management Honored with an Assisted Living Federation of America 2013 Best of the Best Award for its Eat Smart, Live Strong Initiative

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BMA Management, the largest provider of assisted living in Illinois, has been honored by the Assisted Living Federation of America with a 2013 Best of the Best Award. The awards are designed to recognize outstanding business practices in the senior living industry.

ALFA Best of the Best Award Image (ESLS)

(Left to Right) Mark Ohlendorf – Immediate Past Board Chairman of ALFA; Rachel Hawn, graduate student from Eastern Illinois University; Rod Burkett – President & CEO of BMA Management, Ltd.; Richard Grimes – President and CEO of ALFA

BMA Management, Ltd., of Bradley, Illinois, was honored earlier this month by the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA) with a 2013 Best of the Best Award for the company’s Eat Smart, Live Strong Initiative.

BMA is the largest provider of assisted living in Illinois and the 16th largest provider nationwide. ALFA is the largest national association exclusively dedicated to professionally-managed, resident-centered senior living communities and the residents and families they serve.

ALFA’s Best of the Best awards program is designed to recognize outstanding business practices in the senior living industry. BMA was the winner in the “A Taste of the Future: The Next Generation Dining Menu” category.

The award was presented to Rod Burkett, President and CEO of BMA Management, and Rachel Hawn of Eastern Illinois University at ALFA's annual 2013 Conference that was held in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“For the Eat Smart, Live Strong Initiative, we teamed up with Eastern Illinois University to see if the program that was developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for seniors 60 to 74 years of age could improve the health and nutritional habits of older seniors in assisted living communities,” says Julie Simpkins, Vice President and Sales and Marketing for BMA Management.

The average age of residents in assisted living communities is 83.

“The university was interested in studying whether the program would successfully motivate assisted living residents to eat at least 3.5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day and to get at least 30 minutes of daily exercise,” says Simpkins.

The Master of Gerontology program at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, as well the university’s kinesiology and nutrition programs were involved in the project. Jacquelyn Frank, Ph.D., Coordinator of the Master of Arts in Gerontology program at EIU directed the university's participation.

“We viewed the collaborate project as an opportunity to refine and enhance our Wellness programs that are offered by our communities,” says Simpkins.

BMA operates 36 assisted living, senior living and memory care communities throughout the State of Illinois.

“Our focus was on how we could help residents make lifestyle changes that would contribute to a longer and more independent life,” says Simpkins. “We also used the initiative as an opportunity to incorporate the dining experience into our Wellness program.”

The program was tested at seven BMA communities in central and southern Illinois. The communities were Bowman Estates of Danville, Eagle Ridge of Decatur, Prairie Winds of Urbana, and the Heritage Woods communities in Centralia, Charleston, Flora, and Mt. Vernon.

Based on the results of the pilot project, BMA is expanding the initiative to all of the communities that the company manages.

“From what we learned in the collaborative effort with Eastern Illinois University and the feedback that residents provided, we made a number of enhancements to our dining and wellness programs,” says Simpkins.

“We changed our menu to offer more choices of fresh fruits and vegetables and have taken steps to make sure that residents of all physical abilities can participate in the exercise programs available at the communities,” she adds.

We also learned the value of showing residents what a cup of fruit or vegetables looks like and of promoting friendly competition to get and keep residents involved. “People are a lot more willing to participate if they have a peer or buddy who is willing to do it with them.”

Other initiatives that are being tried as part of this effort is to develop resident vegetable gardens and to combine healthy snacks with activities such as serving smoothies after an exercise program or hosting a Pizza Party in the Park, which involved a 30-minute walk in the park followed by a picnic of homemade vegetable pizza.

This was the second time that BMA was recognized by ALFA with a Best of the Best award. In 2010, BMA was presented with a Best of the Best award for the company's Leading the Way leadership training program.

This year, ALFA also spotlighted the BMA Management WoW program in the Encouraging New Resident Engagement in the First 90 Days category.

The BMA WoW program is based on “the first 72 hours being the key to helping residents adjust faster to the move to assisted living,” says Simpkins.

The WoW program focuses on staff and residents delivering special personalized attention to engage new residents during their first 72 hours of residency, says Simpkins.

“Both the Eat Smart, Live Strong Initiative and the WoW program are driven by BMA’s focus on providing residents with the love, compassion and dignity that they deserve and emphasis on helping each resident to achieve and maintain as much independence as possible for as long as possible, says Simpkins.

For more information on BMA Management, Ltd. and the managed senior communities, please visit or call 1-877-882-1495.

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