2015 Summer Student Scholars

Alicia Cowles    

  • School: Ohio University
  • Internship Experience: Hickory Creek of Athens
  • Hometown: Cardington

Sunaina Rana

  • School: Miami University
  • Internship Experience: Liberty Nursing Center
  • Hometown: Kathmandu, Nepal

Hannah Thompson        

  • School: Miami University
  • Internship Experience: Butler County Probate Court (Guardianship Program)
  • Hometown: North Canton

Michael T. Vale               

  • School: University of Akron
  • Internship Experience: Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging
  • Hometown: Fairport Harbor

Dorothy Young                

  • School: Wittenberg University
  • Internship Experience: Sinclair Community College – SEEK Conference (Sharing Education, Experience, Knowledge)

Nicole Yozwiak

  • School: University of Youngstown
  • Internship Experience: Briarfield/Brookdale Senior Living
  • Hometown: Canfield

Matthew Bezold             

  • School: The Ohio State University
  • Internship Experience: Ohio Department of Aging
  • Hometown: Columbus

Experience Papers, Summer 2015 Ohio Scholars in Aging Program

Alicia Cowles, Ohio University

I completed my practicum at Hickory Creek of Athens. Hickory Creek is a long-term care facility located in The Plains, Ohio. It is a 170-bed facility and has a secured Alzheimer’s unit. The facility offers skilled services such as speech, physical, and occupational therapy. My main goal during the practicum was to understand the role of an administrator in a long-term care facility. I wanted to see how each member of the different departments would collaborate and work towards a common goal, “Making a Difference…One Resident at a Time”.  I was able to observe each department and work hands on to understand the role of every individual. Not only did I work with the administrator, but the housekeeping, laundry, and dietary department. Being a practicum student at a nursing facility required me to step out of my shell and become more assertive. I am now able to address residents, family members, and coworkers with confidence.

During my practicum I worked on a variety of projects focusing on quality assurance in the dietary and nursing departments while also helping the administrator. I examined weight loss in every resident over a period of six months to see if any residents had a weight loss between a one month period that was 5% or greater. After examining 100 residents, 20 had at least a 5% weight loss. I learned how it was important to monitor resident weight loss because it could indicate that something is wrong with a resident’s health. In addition to my weight loss project I assisted in dining room audits examining the environment the meals were served in, the dignity of the residents, and the proper food handling of the staff.

With the administrator I was also exposed to specific incident, sexual misconduct, and abuse reports. I helped interview staff, residents, and witnesses to specific situations.  This was a personal obstacle because performing investigations was not something I was expecting or comfortable handling. With the help of the administrator I gained more confidence in speaking to residents and staff appropriately about the situations to collect statements. When I first began my field experience I had no idea that this would be a task that administrators would have to work on. Though the reasoning for the investigations are unpleasant, I am thankful for the experience I have gained in interviewing residents and staff for this necessary task if I am to become an administrator.

The most beneficial task I helped with was performing Manager Rounds. I assisted a management team to check each resident room for safety purposes and to make sure each individual is being cared for properly. I would also examine facial hair, nail care, and the resident’s general appearance. While this was being done the management team would also examine care plans to make sure all interventions were in place. It was good to see that after a few weeks of the management team helping with room checks how much better the facility was due to management helping provide quality, person first centered care.

The Ohio Scholars in Aging Program allowed me to enhance my practicum experience by surrounding me with peers who have similar interests in studying aging. It was great to get different opinions and have conversations about similar experiences during my practicum. I was exposed to new knowledge about programs offered to facilities such as the Opening Minds Through Art and the Music and Memory programs, while also being able to have conversations with the Ohio Department of Aging staff.  I am now more aware of how the Ohio Department of Aging is involved with long-term care facilities and the relationships that one could have in the future to better assist residents. I am now confident and motivated to continue in a career focused on helping older adults due to the strong prevalence of aging and the multiple struggles the older population faces. Aging is something that everyone should care about, and I cannot wait to continue in this growing field.

Sunaina Rana, Miami University

I interned in Liberty Nursing Center (LNC) which is situated at Oxford, Ohio; one of the seventeen nursing centers under Liberty Nursing Centers. I spent 10 weeks of my summer vacation in the nursing home and it still feels there is more to learn from there. Although the residents ranged from age of 34 to 95, I focused on the senior citizens (60 years and above) as per my academic interest.

Amongst many other institutions, I chose to obtain practical experience from the nursing home for mostly two reasons; to observe the holistic approach taken by the Liberty Nursing Center to cater to the needs of senior citizens, and to see how much a policy for senior citizen affected them in macro level and what policy would be needed to support senior citizen. Acknowledging the same, I am thankful to the management team of LNC in providing me an opportunity to explore every department of the nursing home.

Despite having few years of experience working in the hospitals in Nepal, and often taking care of the older adults, the services provided at LNC was beyond my imagination. The management cared to listen to the feedbacks from the residents to keep improving the services and also make them feel the ownership towards the institution. Being exposed to the diverse activities and facilities provided in the nursing home, I felt that the residents in my country are utterly underserved. The rigorousness in managing a nursing center and old age homes is my biggest take-away from the internship.

I switched myself observing and supporting various departments; dietary, business office, activity, therapy and memory unit as per the need. I was able to practice the communication skills learnt during my graduate assistantship projects in supporting therapists in risk management and developed care plan with the therapist for the residents of special cases. I had an amazing experience meeting individual residents, one on one basis. Talking with the residents, listening to their experiences, observing their daily routines, and taking them on a walk provided me a chance to understand how much a personal touch in the life matters as one starts to get older.

I transitioned to administrative section to learn and support in conducting meetings with staffs, residents and families. Similarly, I assisted in reviewing the schedules of patients and planned for the care visits. I conducted ‘abaqis’ interviews, a tool for quality assessment of nursing homes. I felt trusted to be allowed to interact with the representative from Ohio Department of Health, which helped me to see the nursing home from the eye of a state.

Apart from being left on my own to engage myself to broaden my learning in the absence of the supervisor, the experience in Liberty Nursing Home has been really enriching. It felt as if all the courses we studied in a year unveiled in mere 10 weeks of my internship.

I would like to thank Ohio Scholars in Aging Program – Summer, 2015 and Ohio Department of Aging (ODA) for providing a wonderful platform to expand our networking with ODA staffs and the interns with same interest but with different experiences. I feel fortunate to share and acquire knowledge related to aging and at the same time different ways to serve the older adults. I look forward to meeting and learning from this cohort in the future too.

Hannah Thompson, Miami University

My summer practicum placement was at Butler County Probate Court stationed in Hamilton, Ohio. I worked with Judge Rogers and Rebecca DeLong, LSW, MSW on various projects and shadowing experiences.  My primary focus was with the Guardianship program, but I was also exposed to multiple opportunities within Probate Court and the community.

In June 2015, new Ohio Guardianship law went into effect, causing the court to make adaptations to local rule and the Butler County guardianship process.  My first project was to help with the creation of an updated training manual for “layperson” and volunteer guardians in the county.  New requirements for the court and guardians were incorporated into the manual, which will be disseminated at upcoming educational events hosted by Probate Court.  My main task was to relay information regarding the guardianship process from the Ohio Revised Code, Rules of Superintendence, and Butler County Local Rule.  (Some changes to the guardianship process include continuing education requirements, an emergency guardianship process, and a complaint filing process.)  Also included were sections on community resources that guardians may use to connect their individuals with services concerning higher quality of life.   This project was a great way to familiarize myself with guardianship law and how it is executed at local probate court and beyond.

Involvement in the “Guardianship Connection Program” was my second project, which allowed me to meet with various guardians and “individuals under guardianship” in Butler County.  Probate Court is looking to make connections with whom they serve and make sure “individuals under guardianship” are getting the best care possible.  By making these visits, we can ensure that guardians are getting the resources they need to continue advocating for their individual’s best interests.  These visits exposed me to multiple populations served through the guardianship process in the county including aging, mental health, developmental disabilities, drug/alcohol, and brain injury individuals.  This was the most rewarding part of my summer experience, as I met some truly inspiring individuals.  The relationship between guardians and their individuals span from family members to volunteers that wish to make a difference in a person’s life.  I learned how valuable these connections are between the probate court and the guardians/individuals in the county.  They provide an outlet not only for educating guardians, but making a face-to-face effort to truly get to know whom Butler County is serving in this program.

My opportunities with Butler County Probate Court and the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program provided a great blending of exposure to both local and state level agencies and aging related resources.  Learning about community resources and its connection to state level agencies and policy was exactly what I wanted out of my experience this summer. It was also very insightful to learn from other Gerontology students about their experiences and learn from ODA staff.  Learning from others about their impact on the aging population is what makes the OAGE program so important to the future of a student, like me.  Thank you for this opportunity to participate this summer!

Michael T. Vale, University of Akron

Throughout the course of the summer, I have had the pleasure working alongside the Ombudsman at Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities as their Music and Memory Ombudsman Intern. Ombudsman are advocates for residents in long-term care facilities. They are known for protecting and ensuring resident rights in addition to resolving complaint issues. Although, I was trained in the aforementioned skills, I worked more specifically with the Music and Memory program at several long-term care facilities that the Ombudsman oversee and fund. Music and Memory is a program which targets improving the quality of life and memory of those with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. This is done by distributing individuals with music players, like iPods, that have specific playlists that are tailored to that individual. Overall, the program is a pleasurable person-centered activity for those in long-term care, and it also reminds family, friends and caretakers of individuals with memory deficiencies of what their loved ones can remember, rather than focusing on any losses.

The State Ombudsman in the Ohio Department of Aging covers the cost the program in 250 different facilities across the State of Ohio. The Ombudsman at Direction Home monitors seventeen different facilities with a total of 84 participants across Summit, Portage, Stark and Wayne counties. My personal responsibilities were to visit each facility and make sure that the program was being implanted and managed appropriately, as well to ascertain the completion of a client and family survey for every participant. In these responsibilities, I met with all 84 Music and Memory participants and completed all of their survey forms. This allowed me to visit, explore and compare several different types of long-term care facilities and methods of care. Each facility worked at a different pace in their implementation of the program, which allowed me to observe the full developmental process of the program. Every facility also had their own creative aspect about their specific program, which illustrates the remarkable utility of the Music and Memory program. Additionally, I also attempted to contact a family member for every participant either through the mail or phone. Attempting to accommodate a variety of schedules was challenging at times, but most family members response to the program was positive and well worth any hassle.

Without any doubt, the most rewarding, appealing and paramount component of my practicum experience was getting to interact with the participants and host several discussions about music. I have had the pleasure to watch some residents listen to their playlist and transcend the barriers their dementias create. I have since learned that music shortens the distance between any two people, and that the topic alone can facilitate conversation with practically everyone. Most all the residents had incredibly positive experiences with the program, and would light up just when asked if they simply liked music. Getting a chance to become an advocate of the Music and Memory project has allowed me to connect with a group of people whose abilities are often overlooked which has been invaluable.

Dorothy Young, Wittenberg University

My internship afforded me a different view, a behind the scenes out of committee view, of an organization I have been a part of for the past three years as a volunteer, the College for Lifelong Learning’s SEEK Conference at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio. The SEEK Conference is a day of learning built around interests of people aged sixty and over. This year marked the 13th anniversary of the program. The day starts out with a special motivational speaker followed by two 40 minute breakout sessions that include seven learning opportunities, then lunch, followed by two more 40 minute breakout sessions, and finally another special speaker to close the learning day.

Participants pay $5 for the day made possible through sponsorships garnered from area businesses, agencies, or individuals. Asking for financial support was a big challenge for me – I was only able to get one agency sponsorship and more would have been appreciated. One of the favorite parts of the day for participants is the door prize drawings done at lunch and at the end of the day, the prizes are donated by area businesses. The best thing about the conference to me, it enabled nearly 400 participants to continue in a culture of lifelong learning, either for the day or maybe for the rest of their life.

I thought the internship was just going to be more of what I had done in the past as a volunteer, but quickly realized there was much more in store. The saying trial by fire is very fitting for my time. Much of my time was spent alone in the office calling and registering participants, speaking with presenters getting descriptions of the presentation and the speaker bios for their introduction in their breakout session, as well as contacting sponsors. The challenge was being able to get that work done while our students came in person to register for the conference or handle other class issues (which I did not have clearance to do) so at times I met with vented frustration from our clients. That was difficult because all I wanted to do was help them figure things out, even if it had nothing to do with SEEK.

The rest of my time was spent organizing seventeen Sociology students to prepare goodie bags for the participants, and work throughout the day as hosts/hostesses – service learning that was counted toward their final grade for the semester. I believe the agency wanted to give me an opportunity to network and have another set of trusted hands to organize the day.

I have enjoyed this opportunity immensely. I have learned to embrace networking even at the ripe old age of 49. I have been reminded once again how vital team work is in an organization, as was mentioned in each of the scholar’s presentations. None of us could accomplish the tasks set before us without the help of another, which is personified in the partnership between the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education for the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program.

Nicole Yozwiak, University of Youngstown

My internship consisted of shadowing different departments at Briarfield, which provides rehabilitation, elder care, and senior living.  Throughout this experience, I worked with human resources, their corporate billing office, and social services.  I experienced the importance of collaborating between the departments in order to achieve one goal: providing the best care to each individual resident.

On the other hand, I am currently employed at one of Brookdale Senior Living’s communities as the administrative assistant at an assisted living community. Without this job opportunity, I would have never been able to learn everything that I know today.   Throughout this experience, I have learned the importance of teamwork and how everyone’s job is an essential part of operating a senior living community.  Also, no matter how long you work in the senior population, there will always be something new to learn and take away from the elderly.

I enjoyed having both experiences and being able to compare not only how a locally owned senior living facility runs vs. a corporation, but also witness a larger facility with skilled care vs. a smaller community while only provides assisted living care.  I also gained experience in Medicaid and speaking with different insurance companies.  It is not always easy working with outside companies, but that is an essential part of operating a successful business.

One of my big take-away points from being a part of the Ohio Department of Aging Scholars program would have to be gaining an understanding of what programs the state provides for the elderly.  There are many great programs that are taking place in Ohio and being able to meet and speak with these individuals helped bring everything into perspective.  I have learned how the state provides to each county and ideas to bring back home and implement in the senior living communities.

Matthew Bezold, The Ohio State University

Hi, I am Matthew Bezold. My internship is with the monitoring team of the fiscal division within the Ohio Department of Aging. As part of my internship, I helped out the fiscal monitoring team complete their day to day duties and get caught back up on the monitoring calendar. This involves monitoring the AAAs. AAAs (or area agencies on aging) are the entities that administer services and programs for Ohio’s older population. Our function is to serve as assurance that the monies these agencies receive are being spent properly.

The Ohio Department of Aging was interested in having me work on this project because it is a normal part of day to day operations. In addition to giving me experience as an auditor, this internship served a unique purpose in that I was able to help out the agency because I was able to work on a job that a full-time employee would work on without all of the additional complications that come with hiring a full-time employee.

My project changed throughout the course of my internship from me learning the rules and regulations of government accounting to me actually applying these rules and regulations and making sure that the AAAs are following them. A few obstacles I faced while working on the project were the length of time that it takes for an AAA to get back to you with a response when you have a question. Also, on a more personal note, I struggled at times with time management. As this is a non-traditional internship that continues through the school year, I have to work to balance my time between work and school.

As part of this internship, I also had the opportunity to get out of the office and travel with the monitoring team to the AAA sites. This is truly a great experience because it’s always nice to get out of the office once in a while. But it’s also nice to get to talk face to face with the people you email daily. As part of this internship, I learned what all is involved in audit and some of the differences between government and corporate auditing. This knowledge is truly helpful and will help me make decisions about which career path I should choose.