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Plenium is an organization that offers experiences as their products. Located in the city of Puebla, México Plenium distinguishes itself for being an institution that promotes prevention of diseases and other risks factors to health. They also implement integral strengthening that provides proposals of personalized interventions in order to resolve the specific needs of people in the process of aging (50+ years old) so they can improve their quality of life in their golden years. Plenium works as a business model that acquires economic benefits by offering services to this specific group of the population.
This project idea was conceived approximately six years ago by the initiative of Marcelo Plata and Juan Quintana, businessmen from the city of Puebla. This idea, as they say, “emanates from the concern to offer a different approach and perspective towards understanding of the aging process in our society, specifically giving and offering spaces where elderly people can live the joy of getting older through the highest quality of life that they can achieve”.
The principal motivation of these two businessmen appeared when they found themselves dealing with the situations of their grandparents; they relate that “despite all the best efforts of family members in taking care of them, it didn't seem to be enough. That was the moment when we realized that we were just improvising, using unstructured and unprofessional care giving practices”. They noticed that they didn’t have the proper knowledge or the basic training to offer quality services to their respective grandparents.
Years later they had the opportunity to travel abroad to the United States. They said, “we realized that the culture of retirement begins early in people's lives as they have the awareness to enjoy that stage in life. That’s why American enterprises built services and products for this population segment forming ‘retirement clusters’, where people developed their own community with all the necessary services, enjoying the dignity and happiness of their age”.
When Marcelo Plata and Juan Quintana came back to Puebla, they perceived that their city had insufficient proposals and actions on the subject, especially services for the impoverished that are offered in inadequate institutions. This was when they wondered, “Why not give local people in their 50’s more and better services or housing where they can enjoy this life stage? And how to inform, prepare and modify the culture so people can face the challenges they will experience?”
That is how they came to UNINCUBE, a business incubator, for help in developing their own particular way of developing the idea of this business. At that stage Martha Pérez joined the project with the objective of creating a business model to satisfy the needs and offer the ideal services for the community of elderly people. The first step was to gather information about this stage of life, the social context in the city, tendencies, population statistics, benchmarking and others. The working team got together to map the information in order to find conclusions. They sought help from UNINCUBE to confirm their perceptions in order to start a formal process of creating a business enterprise.
This is how they formalized the innovation, describing it as follows: “along with UNINCUBE it was determined that the main focus would be the area of health in an integrative way, because one of the biggest concerns people have is not to be dependent on their families. This idea is the basis to start changing the culture of elderly people, so they can live this stage of their lives with wellness and in a proactive way, sharing their experiences and knowledge with younger generations”.
Marcelo Plata continually says that “ideas become worthless if they are not put into action”, so the next logical step was to create Plenium, whose lines of action are completely focused on prevention, rehabilitation and strengthening through integral services, and contributing to the person's physical, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions. The services offered include physiotherapy, nutrition assessment, and group fitness lessons and psychological accompaniment. From the perspective of the founders, “The main objective of this integrative intervention is bringing results to the persons in the process of aging, so they can achieve a state of fullness in their golden years”.
As Martha Pérez sustains, “The Plenium innovation begins with focusing on the business model in the wellness of the person in an integrative way, bringing a powerful and human impact in our society. It was in this way that Plenium formed an interdisciplinary work team with collaborators committed to principles and values that are related to the mission and vision of the organization. All the participants believe and are dedicated to bringing forth a new vision and hope to this segment of the population that has been traditionally excluded”.
The Plenium work team distinguishes itself through their commitment, respect, responsibility and empathy towards elderly people. They are professionals highly qualified in social skills which facilitate high levels of communication and understanding of the person with multiple dimensions that must be integrated in harmony in order to achieve an optimal sense of fullness.
In words of Marcelo Plata, ”We saw in other countries, particularly in the US, the way they treated people of 50+ years old... that was when we decided to take action. Seeing all the advantages of other countries when it comes to medical, technological and social advances for the elderly population, that is when you start to ask yourself about what we do in our own country. It is actually very simple, if you are observing that culture and spaces designed especially for elder people, you say ‘this is where I want to be!”, so why not offer the same services as other countries so people decide to stay?
The main challenge was to conceive of a place where elderly people wanted to stay, also located in the same place where they were born and grew up, where all their thoughts, feelings and memories were.
This is what provoked them to generate a new vision; a new purpose different from the existing ones directed at people of 50+ years, having the mission to give them understanding, empathy, happiness and love so they can improve their sense of belonging in their respective towns and cities.
This new purpose has a deep meaning for the founders, “It’s not just about building a place where they can live, but also building a model based on and adapted to the needs and realities of our socio-cultural context. Breaking with old paradigms is where the real challenge is: change the focus and start to view this stage of live as one we can enjoy through all the experiences lived, sharing lessons, and empowering the young with their knowledge and on-going projects”.
As they said, “We want to show our society the value of a culture of prevention in all aspects: health, economic, housing, because this is the first step to assuring a future of living with joy, and when the time comes, let our lives go in a peaceful way, transcending other people’s lives. This is what keeps Plenium and all the collaborators full of inspiration, it’s saying to all people living their golden years: THIS IS YOUR LIFE MOMENT”.
Since the idea was born six years ago, the main objective to resolve was how the people that are on the path to live their golden years can achieve a better quality of life. “Older means leaving a trace in others,” as Juan Quintana believes. Overall the company sees health from several different perspectives: medical, physical, nutritional, and psychological. Plenium is a place where all people can find this variety of services in an integrative way. Part of the initial assessment is to detect the emergent needs of each individual.
Through this model, this specific sector of the population can enjoy a comfortable place to work through different disciplines of their health needs and be assisted by highly qualified personnel with a very human approach. As Marcelo Plata says: “it's not about offering products, it’s about providing an experience”.
Explained by the founders, “The integrative process that the clients receive inside Plenium consist in diagnosis, channelling and follow-up. In the first stage a medical assessment is required in order to obtain a general diagnosis. Once this information is obtained, the patient receives instructions and indications of which areas are the ones that require immediate attention, always respecting the client's decision to choose the integral intervention (using all areas available in Plenium) or just selecting some of them”.
Once the client decides and based on his or her needs, Plenium health professionals develop an action method to initiate the intervention. Some kinds of pain or distress require the intervention of diverse specialists in physical as well as in psychological health; that’s when the Plenium plan of action gains more relevance, because this is when all the professionals work in communication between themselves and the client so he or she can receive the best attention. After the recovery process of the client ends, a follow-up program starts in order to conserve and improve their quality of life.
Choosing the complementary process that is always offered is the client's decision and not an indispensable requisite to enter Plenium. As the founders told us, “The principal challenge is to change or modify the culture, where the clients are the first ones to choose these integrated services”. Part of the success of this innovative system is clear in what was said by Marcelo Plata, “Today, we have some clients that are experiencing this kind of integrality." Even though not all of the clients decide to continue with the entire process, they do acquire a sense of victory.
A victory is not always reached when you modify the culture in which we live, but is reached in the small steps that change people’s minds little by little. The impact on health and quality of life of a single person transforms in an immediate way their lives and how the person interacts with his or her social circle; it also serves as a domino effect, influencing one person can help trigger an information distribution effect directed toward the rest of society.
“Getting together is a beginning, but staying together is a process, working hand to hand is success,” Martha Pérez expressed. The Plenium business model has as a fundamental key piece: their work team. Martha continues: “Every one of the professionals involved are the ones who create the experience of integrated services and interventions, if any one of the services breaks down or fails, this will affect the client in his or her path to achieving fullness. Each collaborator knows that the intervention they will do means nothing if they don’t sum it up with the others, acknowledging this is how the team has seen their mission as a ‘win-win’ situation, transforming the lives of people who were isolated, ignored and without a life plan, people that can now say: ‘you only get old when you begin to stop learning’”.
The Plenium business model has an impact on society thanks to their vision and innovation goals translated into the integrality of services. All of the collaborators in this project converge their professional visions in order to provide complete solutions for the same problem: the person’s wellness. To reach these multidisciplinary results, Plenium requires strategic allies such as Medical Doctors with different specialities, clinical laboratories, asylums and day care homes. They utilize all of these tools to know all the needs of elderly people so they can reach out to people and offer their complete vision of intervention.
One of the most relevant approaches of Plenium has been towards Colleges, Universities and other educational institutions as UPAEP and CMUCH with the objective to promote the development of specialized programs that provide future professionals with the skills and tools to give elderly people proper attention and service. As research shows, our society will have a greater population of the elderly and they are generally a forgotten and excluded group. Plenium has the vision of evolving into an “Elderly Cluster” providing opportunities for tourism, education, and retirement housing.
The service begins with the education aspect called “career formation”. The main objective of this step is to train families and those people who have an elderly person with specific and special needs. In this program different professionals intervene such as Physiotherapists, Psychologists, Nutritionists, and Geriatricians. These disciplines work together in order to obtain wellness and fullness in elders.
“Plenium wants to make a social impact, an impact that transforms the culture in favor of the people that are living through their golden years, with the main objective that their lifestyle and quality of life improves substantially for them and people of 50 years and more," the founders stated.
Through Plenium they look to “transform and generate different outlooks that include the dehumanized, elitist and obsolete visions, in which retirement is seen as an elderly prison, or places for displacement of the elderly, a place to die alone”. They know it is not easy, but as Marcelo Plata says, “the beginnings are not easy but the secret resides in persistence”.
As they explained, “A fundamental part of the social approach has been obtained through programs of collaboration constructed with colleges and universities, having students which elaborate workshops and lectures to general public, family and patients, informing and creating networks." The other side of the approach has been gained through the actual clients with continual clinical follow-ups and constant communication, obtaining credibility. This is how Plenium has reached a better channel of diffusion through word-of-mouth recommendations starting with the first clients, talking about this new vision and the wholeness intervention.
Along with the idea of creating a business that changes culture and perception as they approach old age, the main objective is allowing people to age with fullness, achieving more quality of life, health and an adapted lifestyle. These goals generate happiness in the person as well as a positive impact in our community. In their own words, “This model started with the purpose of eliminating the fear involved in the aging process and live through this life stage, family neglect, and social alienation that the elderly so often experience in institutions known as ‘asilos’, asylums for the elderly.”
The retirement housing culture is common in the US. Plenium wants to satisfy the need for prevention, adaptation and improvement of life in the elderly through a solid model that solves physical, medical, nutritional and psychological needs. All of this is achieved with professionals in the local area who provide assessment, lectures, and workshops. They also host events that incite social interaction, coexistence and amusement through group travels. Plenium takes a new approach to clients; very different in every aspect from the currently existing services.
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Marcelo Plata, Juan Quintana and Martha Pérez, Founders and administrator