Wayne State University Announces Arthur Vining Davis Foundations Support for the Interdisciplinary Older Adult Home Visit ProgramJune 12, 2012
DETROIT – Wayne State University has received a $124,000 grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations to support the Interdisciplinary Older Adult Home Visit Program. The program educates students from the School of Medicine, the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the School of Social Work about the unique psychosocial and health care needs of older adults. Older adults from metropolitan Detroit volunteer to participate in the program.
“With an aging population in this country, projects like the Interdisciplinary Older Adult Home Visit Program go far in creating replicable efforts that can affect seniors in a significant and positive way,” said Cheryl Tupper, program director for religion and health care at Arthur Vining Davis Foundations. “We are happy to support such an innovative and worthwhile program.”
The Older Adult Home Visit Program partners medical students with pharmacy students and social work students. As a team they visit adults 65 and older. The older adults are recruited to participate through postings at senior centers, residential facilities, Detroit Medical Center clinics and churches. During the visit, medical students use assessment tools to evaluate seniors’ nutrition and/or functional and cognitive abilities. Pharmacy students address medication use and management, and social work students discuss and evaluate social networks. Overall, students learn about aging issues through real-life interaction.
“Through the Older Adult Home Visit Program, students gain a firm understanding of the support seniors require to remain at home as opposed to an assisted living facility or nursing home,” said Patrick Bridge, associate dean for medical education at Wayne State’s School of Medicine. “We are grateful to the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for their support of this program that also advances the benefits of interdisciplinary patient care.”
The Older Adult Home Visit Program is led by Jennifer Mendez, assistant professor and director of co-curricular programs for the Wayne State School of Medicine. She has significant experience in undergraduate medical education and curriculum development, and more than 18 years’ experience in geriatric medicine. Interdisciplinary participating faculty members are Joel Steinberg, M.D. from the School of Medicine, Mary Beth O’Connell and Carol Stutrud from the Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and Cassandra Bowers and Cheryl Waites from the School of Social Work.
By communicating with and visiting older adults at home early in their educational careers, students gain an understanding of seniors’ lifestyles and health care needs. Students also learn the value of interdisciplinary teamwork in patient care. Now in its second year, the Older Adult Home Visit Program serves about 500 seniors each year. The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations grant will help support the program’s continued growth and development.
“Our students learn best when they have real, hands-on training and can apply theory to practice. This program fits perfectly with this objective,” said Cheryl Waites, dean of the WSU School of Social Work.
Seniors — who are encouraged to discuss participation in the program with their primary care physician —receive guidance on nutrition, reducing falls and developing a daily medication regimen. By implementing a few small changes, older adults can increase the likelihood that they can stay safe at home on their own.
“Seniors often take multiple prescriptions daily, so it’s important to assist with medication use and management,” said Richard Slaughter, Wayne State’s associate dean for pharmacy practice. “Through the Older Adult Home Visit Program, pharmacy students can practice this skill and gain an appreciation for why it’s so important.”
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