The iChooseWell program is the region’s only integrative healthy lifestyles program designed specifically for pregnant/post-partum mothers in recovery. In July, 2015, thanks to the generosity of the Humana Foundation, Volunteers of America (VOA) and ChooseWell Communities, Inc (CWC) launched the iChooseWell program at VOA’s Freedom House.
|Weekly Chop-n-Chats||Weekly gathering of compassionate health community & community meal preparation|
|Monthly Lunch-n-Learns||Opportunity for busy moms to create multiple crockpot meals in one 90 minutes setting|
|Sessions with Coach &/or Community Connector||Coaching sessions and/or direct interactions with Community Connectors to advance and support health goals of participating families|
The program built on the Compassionate Health Community that CWC introduced at Freedom House in 2013 by:
- Continuing the successful Chop-n-Chats which bring Freedom House families together with health professionals, business leaders, other mothers and other community partners to explore the health benefits of nutritious
food choices, home cooking, intentional movement,
positive responses to stress and strategies to build a culture of health and well-being in their new families. The Chop-n-Chats leverage the power of community to: (a) increase confidence, (b) experiment with new/positive health behaviors and (c) build a network of support that extends beyond the families’ stay at Freedom House.
- Appointing a Transformation Coach to each Freedom House resident two months prior to release to plan for continued positive health behaviors following discharge from the program.
- Connecting each Freedom House family to a Community Health Worker (Community Connector) to provide encouragement, allow more successfully navigation of fragmented health and social service options and build sustainable supports to advance the health goals developed during their residential treatment.
iChooseWell First Year Program Outcomes
- 100% of active Program Participants maintained their sobriety.
- All Program Participants had established a relationship with a primary care physician at the conclusion of year one of the iChooseWell program (vs. 38% who entered Freedom House with a primary care physician).
- At the conclusion of Year One, all but one Program Participant indicated that they usually or always made contact with their PCP prior to visiting the Emergency Room. Only three of the 13 surveyed Program Participants made this claim upon program entry.
- Although the number of Program Participants who regularly try a “home remedy” before contacting their PCP doubled in the first year of the program, there remains room for improvement in this outcome category.
- All Program Participants now state that they are able to link healthy food choices to their overall sense of health and well-being. This compares to only 46% who made that link at the initiation of the program.
- Consumption of foods with high fructose corn syrup reduced from an average of 5.3 days per week to 4.2 days per week at the conclusion of Year One.
- All but one Program Participant embrace their responsibility for guiding the health choices and monitoring health outcomes for their families.
- At the conclusion of Year One, 75% of Program Participants were able to demonstrate healthy responses to stressors.
- Program Participants were engaged in physical activity, beyond normal walking, an average of 3.7 days per week .
- More than 90% of Program Participants were able to identify community and other resources to assist themselves and their families in maintaining healthy behaviors.
- Community engagement, measured by volunteer hours contributed by CWC staff, CWC board members, community partners and other volunteers exceeded 1200 hours.
Participant Self-Reported Health Behaviors
In January, 2016, the HEAL program was launched to provide incentives to iChooseWell participants who engaged in healthy behaviors in between scheduled events. Activities are categorized as follows and are self-reported on H.E.A.L Boards posted in both Freedom House residential buildings. Residents (and staff) can help one another pursue and track new or extensions to existing health behaviors in the following categories:
- H – activities relating to improved health behaviors (e.g., drinking more water, smoking fewer cigarettes, power-walking, decreasing sugar intake, etc.)
- E – engaging in behaviors to strengthen emotional well-being (e.g., stress management tools, journaling, meditation, etc)
- A – choosing “abundance”, positivity and gratitude
- L – demonstrating leadership qualities (e.g., help plan/lead a Chop & Chat or Lunch & Learn, Mentor a FH1 person, etc.)