What does it mean to “transform aging?” This question was asked in a recent conversation about the Vision/Mission/Values statements of United Church Homes. This phrase keeps stumbling into the conversation and people point out that we can’t really alter the fact that we all age. Truth! However, it helps to insert a few words: Our mission is to transform the way we think about aging.
This goal helps UCH take seriously our role to educate ourselves and others about aging. As an organization with 100 years of experience, we see the call to teach what it means to age in the 21st century. Likewise, given the changes in the area of aging services, we must provide the resources for our staff to remain informed of best practices as we build a culture of community, wholeness, and peace.
UCH partners with educational institutions to assist with this ongoing process of transformation. We seek to train and transform a new generation of professionals in the field of senior services through internships and programs for students, nurses, physician assistants, social workers, and dieticians and sponsor seminars about health-related careers and nonprofit organizations.
We also provide staff opportunities to participate in a leadership skills certification program. Together, they work to create and implement programs and practices to provide abundant life to our residents, staff, families, and communities.
Nursing students from Tri-Rivers Center for Adult Education and Marion Technical College receive hands-on clinical training with residents at Fairhaven Community as part of a more than 20-year-old internship program. The program allows students to learn how to communicate and build relationships with residents. “By having varying levels of care at Fairhaven, this allows these future nurses to be able to perfect skills they will need to perform no matter where their nursing careers take them,” said Christy Biller, staff development coordinator and unit coordinator for rehab at Wetzel and Stubbs units.
In addition, students studying social work at The Ohio State University participate in care planning at Fairhaven. Each year, an intern works with older adults and gains experience with end-of-life care.
The 2016-17 school year marks a first for UCH. Working together with First United Church of Christ in Marion, UCH is sponsoring Emily Howard, a student at Methodist Theological School of Ohio. Traditionally, congregations offer seminary students opportunities to work with youth. This field placement setting allows her to work in a local congregation, with UCH and the residents of Brownstone Terrace and St. Michael’s Communities, two of our affordable housing communities. Emily will learn about the spiritual and pastoral needs of older adults, as well as the role of a local church pastor, and will gain insight to our church-related institutional life.
“In 2017, UCH will include staff from Fairhaven and Central Office to participate in a new Elder Care Certificate that the (Alber Center) is launching. This program is the result of a grant and UCH is pleased to be able to have staff participate,” said Scott Slutz, VP of Human Resources.
In 2016, executives in Housing Services and Human Resources identified a need within UCH to provide opportunities for employees to build leadership skills. Last July, 12 UCH employees from Housing Services, Healthcare, and Central Office participated in the first of three sessions at The Ohio State University’s Alber Enterprise Center in Marion. The center, which works with organizations seeking to innovate and make an impact in their business sector, provided most of the training. UCH staff focused on bringing the ideas in focus with the Vision/Mission/Values of the organization.
Chapel Hill Community is involved in transforming aging through programs at Kent State University, Kent State University/Stark Campus, Akron University, and Stark State University. Clinical experiences are provided for nursing, social worker, and STNA students. Chapel Hill was honored at the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education in 2016 for their commitment to providing opportunities for students working on long-term care administration as paid administrators in training (AIT).
Heidelberg University (HU) and UCH have similar roots: both were founded by the German Reformed Church. When you look at the histories of both institutions, you see common names between donors and leaders, alum, staff, students, and residents through the years. In 2014, both institutions sought ways to partner. Since 2014, UCH has provided six paying internships for HU students. Parkvue Community and Friendship Village Columbus have hosted summer HU interns, introducing them to career paths in dietary sciences and working with residents with dementia. Amy Kotterman, director of hospitality, has been a regular guest lecturer in the senior seminar for the health science majors. “Amy’s annual lecture is a great example of the value of the relationship between our two institutions. Through supervising interns, Amy helps students understand the importance of holistic decisions about care that are in the best interests of those served,” said Dr. Trevor Bates, associate dean of health science. UCH looks forward to Trevor joining the Board of Directors in 2017. Rev. Beth Long-Higgins, executive director for UCH’s new Ruth Frost Parker Center for Abundant Aging, has served on the board of trustees for HU since 2009.
The work experience 17-year-old Savannah Studavaker is getting at Parkvue Community is priceless. She works in the kitchen at Parkvue where she and others, such as Faith Chicotel, 16, learn skills that will help them get jobs. “They help me learn how to follow directions and keep on task,” Savannah said. Savannah is one of 24 students who participate in Job Connections, a job training program run by EHOVE Career Center in Milan, Ohio. EHOVE is an acronym for Erie Huron Ottawa Vocational Education. Students with disabilities in the program learn to fill out job applications, write resumes, and other skills. “The skills they learn here are so transformational. They can take these skills and can move on somewhere else and be successful,” Job Connections Coordinator Lisa York said. Parkvue has partnered with EHOVE for nearly 10 years, said Robin O’Brien, director of dining services. “(The students) do a lot of the extra things that we have a hard time getting done,” Robin said. The program exposes students to real world experiences that cannot be duplicated in the classroom. “Those are the experiences that lead to the students being able to problem-solve,” Lisa said. Without the program, many of the EHOVE students would struggle to compete in the workforce. Annee Smith, 25, was trained at EHOVE and now volunteers at Parkvue. “I feel like I’m doing God’s work. There are good people here,” Annee said.
Trinity Community offers educational programs for students. It’s a clinical site for dieticians from The Ohio State University and a clinical site for nurses and social workers from Wright State University. Also, first-year physician assistant students from Kettering College of Medical Arts and nursing students from Sinclair Community College participate in clinical rotations there. In addition, Sinclair offers adult education classes for Trinity residents and the community.
National Honor Society students Grace Barton and Emily Mclean from Beavercreek High School volunteer with the Music & Memory and Opening Minds through Art programs with Trinity residents. Their classmate, Nathan Nevels, is learning job skills in the laundry department.
Patriot Ridge Community offers several educational and volunteer opportunities for residents, staff, and southwestern Ohio residents.
Staff members volunteer with the YMCA’s Mentors Matter program. The program aligns inner city youth in the Dayton area with a professional for several days of golf lessons, games, lunch, and discussion about leadership and tools for success.
Nursing students from Cedarville University complete clinical rotations at Patriot Ridge. Students from Cedarville University, Fortris, and Hondros Colleges work as nurses at Patriot Ridge.
Members of the Phi Mu Alpha Fraternity Sinfonia Mills Music Mission complete volunteer service hours at Patriot Ridge to personally interact with and lift the spirits of the residents.
Lindsay Williams, human resources manager at Patriot Ridge, sits on the advisory board of both the Greene County and the Miami Valley Career Centers. The boards meet on a quarterly basis with members of the faculty to discuss the curriculum, preparing students for the workforce and other programs.
Students from the RN programs complete their clinical training at SEM Haven Community in Milford, Ohio.
A Milford High School special needs student enjoys working in the laundry department at SEM Haven while developing work and social skills.
“SEM Haven has always opened our arms and hearts to others in our community. Supporting students fits in with our vision to be a home where caring relationships thrive. Our staff members and the students both get a lot of good experience and we also get great future staff members,” SEM Haven Administrator Barb Wolf said.
Cecilia McGee, registered nurse staff development, is on the advisory board for Live Oaks Vocational Diversified Health Program.
Harmar Place (HP) Rehabilitation and Extended Care in Marietta, Ohio, serves as a clinical site for Washington State Community College nursing students. In addition, HP nurses serve as instructors for licensed practical nursing (LPN) students. The Washington County Career Center brings STNA students for their clinical practice. The clinical education nurse at HP sits on the advisory panels for both institutions and on the panel with the Wood County Practical Nursing program. The director of nursing also serves on the advisory panel for the high school STNA program. Bridging the Ohio River, nursing students from West Virginia University-Parkersburg campus come to HP, usually during flu immunization season, giving injections and receiving lots of practice on the HP staff. “We love to have the students. It’s a win-win for all involved: educational institution and their students, our community and employees, as well as the residents,” said Charlene McGrath, director of nursing for HP.
Pilgrim Manor in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is a clinical site for nurse training and education and has hired some of the students upon graduation and license testing.
For more than 10 years, students pursuing social work degrees at Cornerstone University have spent an academic year working with a Pilgrim Manor resident on the resident’s life story and developing a relationship based on the class criteria. When finished, the students present their projects to classmates, residents, and families. “One year, a Pilgrim Manor resident participating in the project communicated to the student that they had a horrible childhood and adult life but still managed to find joy in everything. They didn’t have any pictures from their childhood of all the fun things they enjoyed. After learning that, the student drew pictures of each of the fun events and bound them in a book and presented the book to the resident at the end-of-year celebration,” said Karen Messick, former administrator at Pilgrim Manor. “During this presentation, there was not a dry eye in the room.”