Alicia Cowles

Ohio University
Hickory Creek of Athens

Summer 2015

“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.”

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.