signature programs




Vital Involvement in Service Coordination (VISC)

Vital Involvement is inacted when:

 a person participates in a meaningful activity or interaction with any element of his/her environment

People want to be identified by:

  • Who they are
  • What they think
  • What they've done
  • What they dream

NOT by their immediate situations that may involve needs and health concerns

The FOCUS is on:

the Whole Person and his/her desire to live a meaningful life

The program assists the person in finding solutions to obstacles that may stand in his/her way.


Promoting Vital Involvement Occurrs When a Service Coodinator:

Produces an action that ENCOURAGES an Elder to participate in meaningful interactions with his/her environment

Vital Involvement in Service Coordination (VISC):

  •  shifts the goal of intervention towards supporting the Elder in experiencing a meaningful daily life; away from accomplishing a particular task for  the Elder client

Nearly 3,000 stories have been collected describing the ways low-income Elders living in subsidized housing have experienced and engaged in Vital Involvement, including the techniques and experiences of the Service Coordinator's engagement in this program.  View our blog for a new story each week.

Vital Involvement can be defined as meaningful engagement with the world outside of self.

                                     (Erikson et al., 1986: Kivnick & Stoffel, 2005)



 The Aging, Wellness and the Arts™(AWA) model was developed in 2009 to address the debilitating despair and loneliness often found in communities of older adults who are isolated, experiencing illness and depression and whose health, mobility or economic circumstances result in very low social engagement (Duncan Davis, 2009). AWA’s approach is modeled after the Creativity and Aging study conducted by the late Dr. Gene Cohen.  In 2013, Helen Kivnick (PhD., Professor of Social Work at the University of Minnesota) and Linda Duncan Davis (Gerontologist) founded an informal collaboration to enhance creative wellness among residents living in 90 Affordable Senior Housing Communities.  The two recognized the potential complementarity of their two approaches and combined them to create the Art, Wellness and Vital Involvement in Aging™ (AWVIA) model.  This model is grounded in the longstanding principle of Vital Involvement (VI), defined as meaningful reciprocal engagement with the world outside of the self (Erikson et al., 1986; Kivnick, 2005; Kivnick, 2010; Kivnick & Pruchno, 2010; Kivnick & Stoffel, 2005; Kivnick & Wells, 2014). 


Scientific studies reveal that art heals by changing a person's physiology. The body's physiology changes from one of stress to one of deep relaxation.


  • Art and music change brainwave patterns, affect a person's autonomic nervous system,  hormones and brain transmitters 
  • Promoting Vital Involvement occurs when a person takes some action that encourages an Elder to participate in meaningful interaction with his/her environment


The research based AWVIA™ program combines the principles of art as wellness and Vital Involvement practice to promote a rich environment of creativity and opportunity.


Our Observations:

 Living a Meaningful Life Promotes:

*Overall wellbeing

              *Increased quality of life

         *Decreased depression

             *Increased socialization

                        *Provides contribution/value 

                   added to the community

We continue to study the outcomes of this aproach and provide support for those wishing to use AWVIA™

  • To enhance your own social service programs
  • To increase meaningful communitiy involvement
  • To support creativity and meaningful living
  • To enhance the overall well-being of those you serve

quantitative, quasi-experimental research


A study examining the physical, cognitive, social and emotional effects of music engagement -

on low-income older adults. The primary goal of this research is to test and quantify the efficancy of the Art, Wellness and Vital Involvement in Aging™ (AWVIA) model using music program delivered to low-income older adults living in affordable housing communities.  

This research was funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.

This model may be used with all art forms and in different populations.

Further research is planned.


70 service coordinators have been trained in Vital Involvement and three thousand qualitative narratives have been collected from the service coordinators on the perceived benefits for residents. Those narratives are being coded and analyzed at this time.   View our blog for a new story each week.




​​ Autonomic Nervous System: ​ A part of the nervous system that regulates key involuntary functions of  the  body, including the activity of the heart muscle; the smooth muscles, including the muscles of the  intestinal  tract; and the glands.

Creative Aging:  Older adults  engaging in the practice of the creative arts in any form and in any capacity.  

Gerontology:  The branch of science that deals with aging, problems that may be associated with  aging and  the promotion of opportunities that promote good health in aging.

HUD:  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

HUD 202 Affordable Senior Housing: Government subsidized housing for low-income persons 62 and older who live independently. 

Service Coordinators: Link people to supportive services and other  community resources which will contribute to continued good health and independence in aging (Many HUD  202  communities employ a Service Coordinator).

Vital Involvement​ Meaningful engagement with the world outside of self.  (Erikson et al., 1986: Kivnick & Stoffel, 2005)