Chelsi Wilson, BSBA, S/OT
Shawnee State University
“Being a part of this program gave me a better understanding of all the different facets of caring and advocating for the well-being of older adults. It was inspiring to talk with other individuals, in various fields and with different interests, all who shared the same passion for promoting the quality of life and understanding the value of all older adults. I would recommend any student to take this opportunity.”
Through my internship experiences as a Shawnee State University Master of Occupational Therapy student, I have had the opportunity to receive numerous hands-on experiences working with older adults in a variety of settings. These experiences include being trained as a CarFit technician and working a CarFit event at a local senior center, participating in Older Driver Safety Awareness Week, being trained as a Matter of Balance (MOB) Community Coach and leading four MOB sessions at a local senior center, leading a 5-stage group for residents at a memory care center, and providing three Senior Home Information Program (SHIP) visits to local community-dwelling older adults. I focused my Ohio Scholars in Aging poster presentation on my SHIP experience.
Through my SHIP experience, I was able to provide home visits for three community-dwelling older adults in Ross County. SHIP is a collaborative, interprofessional home safety initiative in Ross and Scioto Counties. The SHIP team is comprised of representatives from local fire, law enforcement, occupational therapy, and Area Agency on Aging personnel. Participants sign up to receive a SHIP visit, free of charge. During a visit, the SHIP team members walk around the home and speak to the older adult and provide education concerning their field of expertise. Fire personnel provide education on fire safety and provide and install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors as needed; law enforcement personnel provide education on home security; occupational therapists and students provide fall prevention and home modification education and equipment such as nightlights, bathmats, and anti-slip rug tape; and the Area Agency on Aging personnel provide education on long-term care planning services. All equipment provided is free for the participant, made possible through local grant funding.
I also have been conducting research on the SHIP program with my faculty advisor and three other classmates; specifically, a systematic program evaluation. Our results from this evaluation indicate the SHIP is beneficial to all stakeholders including participants, team members, students, and the community at large. The inter-professional collaboration used in SHIP is also a very critical and beneficial component in the program, as noted by all stakeholders. The research also provided information on other strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the program. The findings of our study can be used by other similar programs, or individuals interested in creating a similar program in their area, to facilitate the implementation of other home safety initiatives for older adults living in the community.
Overall, I am beyond grateful for my internship experiences and for the opportunity to be a scholar in the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program. Being a part of this program gave me a better understanding of all the different facets of caring and advocating for the well-being of older adults. It was inspiring to talk with other individuals, in various fields and with different interests, all who shared the same passion for promoting the quality of life and understanding the value of all older adults. I would recommend any student to take this opportunity. Even if you are unsure if you want to work in the field of gerontology, this opportunity is a great learning experience and will add beneficial knowledge to your “toolbox” as a professional.