Michael Wittmann

Michael Wittmann

Michael Wittmann

Youngstown State University

2017

“I have developed a higher level of confidence in my ability as a student and as a professional, and I can’t help but credit my experiences with this program, and day out at the 2017 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference.”

The research project I worked on this semester was on a little thought of topic, which actually occurs daily in nursing homes across the United States and occurred in front of me exactly a year ago.  My topic ‘Enforced Spousal Separation in Long-Term Care’ looks at the issue of dividing aged couples who live in long-term care for mainly medical reasons, but I have witnessed monetary and policy reasons being the cause on occasion.  I completed the entire project at my internship at Copeland Oaks Continuing Care Retirement Community in Sebring, Ohio, and the administrator and COO were interested to see if the separation did have any effects on the couple.

From the start, I wished to take this project to multiple long-term care facilities, with an emphasis on visiting places that are only single purpose such as only having assisted living or skilled nursing.  Due to constraints on time, this was not able to occur and I had to settle on one location.  I would say that was the main disappointment I had with this project as I actually did not have a tough time finding couples at Copeland Oaks, and not many couples said ‘no’ to participating in the interviews.  Taking this project to more long-term care facilities and interviewing more couples on both sides, along with gaining more recognition are my future hopes for this issue.

The 2017 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference far exceeded even my highest expectation.  The professionals of the Gerontology field such as Lynn Ridder of the Alzheimer’s Association were incredibly approachable and extremely willing to converse with students such as myself.  Mr. De Medeiros, husband of the 2017 OAGE Educator of the Year was very impressed with my work and encouraged me to attend graduate school at Miami University, which came as quite a welcomed surprise.  Obviously, I have learned quite a bit of field related material over the last year, but I think most importantly I learned to have confidence in myself and to not be afraid to be heard.  I left the conference extremely proud of having persevered through all the difficult days that came with putting the research project together, and receiving reassurance that my concerns were relevant made it all worth it.  I’m not exactly sure how, but I have developed a higher level of confidence in my ability as a student and as a professional, and I can’t help but credit my experiences with this program, and day out at the 2017 Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference.

Emilee Smith

Emilee Smith

Emilee Smith

Shawnee State University

2017

“I strongly encourage those interested in working with this population to participate in this fantastic program to obtain knowledge from various areas of the field.”

It has been an absolute honor being part of the Ohio Scholars in Aging program, and I am extremely thankful for the opportunity. Throughout the program, I have learned a great deal of information regarding the Ohio Department of Aging and the policies and procedures necessary to provide adequate care for the quickly growing older adult population. The program provided me with opportunities to network with policy makers and other professionals in the aging field, deepening my knowledge base and understanding of the many challenges this population faces. It is crucial that our cohort take what we have learned and implement it into our careers and lives to improve quality of care. It was very humbling to have been associated with many peers who share the same passion and understanding of the importance of caring for our growing older adult population.

As a second year Master of Occupational Therapy student at Shawnee State, I was able to provide a unique perspective on older adult care through the eyes of a clinician. Participating in Music and Memory, Senior Home Inspection Program (SHIP), CarFit, Matter of Balance, Dementia Care project, and fieldwork at a skilled nursing facility has ultimately prepared me to provide sufficient occupational therapy care to older adults. My clinical experience has also taught me not only the value of occupational therapy but also the importance of community mobility, fall prevention, home modification, dementia care, and gaining in place in the older adult population. Providing these free and vital services to the community of Southern Ohio has been a gratifying experience that I am very thankful to have been a part of.

I have learned from these clinical experiences and the Ohio Scholars in Aging program that working as a team is essential to facing the many challenges that older adults encounter. This program also provided me with the support and increased knowledge base to ensure that working with older adults is exactly where I see my future career going. I strongly encourage those interested in working with this population to participate in this fantastic program to obtain knowledge from various areas of the field.

Danyelle Roan

Danyelle Roan

Danyelle Roan

Miami University

2017

“I will take the relationships I’ve made as well as the information I’ve acquired and carry them with me throughout my career as a professional in the field of gerontology.”

For my gerontology internship, I was placed at LifeSpan located in Hamilton, Ohio. The project I worked on consisted of developing a business plan and implementation strategy to start an evidence-based self-management support group for elderly African-American women in neighboring communities. My project consisted of conducting a lot of research on the health statuses of African-Americans in the state of Ohio, assessing the need for such a program in the Hamilton area, and compiling a list of local organizations that may be interested in providing services for participants in the program. LifeSpan was interested in having me work on this specific program because I had experience planning and starting organizations at my university. The fact that I am African-American female, was a bonus! I’ve been able to apply my own knowledge of issues minorities face directly to my project. Since I’d never had experience preparing business plans, that is the major challenge I faced. I did not imagine how much time, effort, and research are put into developing a stellar business plan. I would not have made it thus far, without the help of my supervisor, Bill Staler.

Participating in the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program has presented many opportunities that will aid in the successful implementation of this program at LifeSpan. I’ve been able to network with individuals who are experts in their fields. By preparing a business plan for a public health initiative, I learned how much work goes into starting public health programs. From my participation in the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program, I learned the importance of collaboration across disciplines, and have been able to apply what I’ve learned to my project by contacting organizations to establish partnerships with.

Overall, the information I’ve acquired because of my experience in the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program is exceedingly invaluable to me. I will take the relationships I’ve made as well as the information I’ve acquired and carry them with me throughout my career as a professional in the field of gerontology.

I’d like to thank the Ohio Department of Aging and the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education for giving me the opportunity to learn how I can make an impact in the field of gerontology.

Collena “Lena” Rhodes

Collena “Lena” Rhodes

Collena “Lena” Rhodes

Kent State University

2017

“After reflecting on this project, I learned that although the dilemma at hand may seem large and somewhat daunting, by working smarter you can make a difference even with small changes that will make a larger impact.”

As a senior Nursing Home Administration student at Kent State University, I completed my Administrator In Training internship/practicum at Laurel Lake CCRC in Hudson, Ohio. Laurel Lake is an independently owned, not-for-profit campus with a continuum of care including independent living, assisted living, and skilled nursing. Laurel Lake sits on a beautiful 150 scenic acre setting and is home to nearly 500 residents. Laurel Lake’s mission is, “Laurel Lake strives to be the community of choice for adults who aspire to lead lives filled with meaning, purpose, and lifelong opportunities for growth and service. Together, the residents and staff of Laurel Lake demonstrate these values every day: Compassion – Our commitment to help others in a spirit of caring, kindness, and understanding; Respect – Our commitment to accept all persons, treating each individual with dignity and consideration; Excellence – Our commitment to strive for the highest quality of service, maintaining integrity in the stewardship of our resources; and, Service – Our commitment to work individually and collectively to best meet the needs of others.” During my time at Laurel Lake, I can truly say that I witnessed this mission in action. The residents are committed to community, collaboration, service, and are lifelong learners and teachers in all subjects imaginable. The hardworking and compassionate staff provides the highest quality of care for the residents who live there, every day. Laurel Lake genuinely exemplifies active retirement living.

At the OAGE Conference, I presented a poster about my internship at Laurel Lake. A large part of this presentation included a QAPI Staffing project that I worked on during my time at Laurel Lake and in conjunction with my KSU practicum curriculum. I found that Laurel Lake, like many other facilities in our area and across the state, faced a staffing hardship in our skilled nursing facility. The goals of my QAPI staffing project were to: (1) Increase from a four star staffing rating to a five star staffing rating by adjusting RN FTE’s on second shift in The Crown Center; (2) Improve staff stability and adequate staffing for residents of The Crown Center by reevaluating recruitment efforts for nursing staff to fill vacancies, reducing agency usage and offering a more competitive wage scale in order to provide continuity of care for residents and promote a person-centered care environment; (3) Reconsider scheduling practices by allowing nursing staff to make their own monthly schedules and limit the amount of PRN staff to more adequately provide consistency of care and proper coverage to The Crown Center.

For the first goal, I worked with my Administrator to calculate our current staffing rating according to the National Star Cut Points for Staffing Measures and Staffing Points and Rating tables. With this, my calculations explained that by simply replacing an LPN Charge Nurse on second shift with an RN Charge Nurse, we moved into the five star rating (from the four star). Next, during my time at Laurel Lake I was able to fill in for our HR Director for a few weeks. Throughout this time, I worked with department managers to keep the new hire process running smoothly and discovered that there was turmoil in the hiring process. For my second goal, I created a new hire spreadsheet where, after my three weeks as acting HR Director, I was able to analyze that a significant amount of our interested applicants did not accept the position due to rate of pay. Additionally, I found that we were not efficiently advertising and distributing our STNA applications that had been submitted through our website, and that there were ways to improve recruiting for open positions. We used a third party for recruitment efforts, and therefore, were somewhat invisible or difficult to find in an Indeed dominated job search world. I also consulted with our Human Resources Director and Director of Healthcare to write a simplified classified ad that would better stand out and attract applicants. Lastly, my third goal was created after finding that a large number of our STNA’s were choosing to go PRN (as needed), so that they would receive a higher rate of pay and have more control over their schedules. We use a monthly paper schedule, and have found difficulty staffing weekends due to PRN employees having the ability to make their own schedules, etc. I proposed that if we pay our full and part-time employees a higher rate, and allow them more control of their schedules by using a “fill-in planning request” schedule, we would be able to better staff to our facility’s needs and maintain continuity of care for our residents while doing so. Additionally, these goals would lower our agency usage which would benefit our organization financially, and as a whole.

After reflecting on this project, I learned that although the dilemma at hand may seem large and somewhat daunting, by working smarter you can make a difference even with small changes that will make a larger impact. Overall, my Ohio Scholars in Aging experience was fantastic. During our meetings in Columbus, we were able to thoroughly understand the divisions of ODA and their processes, programs that are provided and how each of these work together. The speed networking event was my favorite activity, which allowed us to interact with professionals in the field and our fellow Ohio Scholars. We were able to hear many speakers, and we also toured the statehouse. As a young professional, learning the processes and seeing where and how policies are made first-hand, was beneficial. The OAGE Conference was a great experience as well. It was my first time attending OAGE, and I was very impressed with the speakers, as well as with other students’ research presentations. This entire program and attendance at the conference provided ample networking opportunities, for employers, graduate programs, and was a nice way to meet other students and hear their research interests and goals. I am grateful for my experience in this program, and hope that other students in the aging field will continue to grow through the Ohio Scholars in Aging program.

Emilee Smith

Katie Obringer

Katie Obringer

Shawnee State University

2017

“From these programs and the OSA experience, I have sharpened my leadership skills and have become more knowledgeable in the roles of other professionals when caring for older adults.”

My practicum consisted of participating in various programs throughout the community that benefitted the local seniors residing in their homes as well as assisted living facilities. Through the Master of Occupational Therapy program at Shawnee State University, I was involved in Music and Memory, Matter of Balance, CarFit, the Senior Home Information Program (SHIP), and hosting a dementia care group at a local assisted living facility. Below is a short summary of each program.

  • Music and Memory: Helping staff at local assisted living facilities (River Bend House and Concord Rehabilitation Center, Wheelersburg, Ohio) set up personalized playlists for residents using iTunes and iPod Shuffles. I spoke with residents to determine their desired music genres/artists/songs, set up a playlist on a designated iPod, and taught activity directors and aides when and how to administer the music.
  • Matter of Balance: Leading three sessions for a Matter of Balance class at the Oak Hill Senior Center in Oak Hill, Ohio. The course focuses on addressing fears of falling and possible fall risks in the home and environment.
  • CarFit: Became a certified CarFit Technician and participated in CarFit event in Chillicothe, Ohio. CarFit uses a 12-point checklist to ensure senior drivers are fitted safely into their cars and comfortably.
  • SHIP: Part of an interdisciplinary team, I visited homes of seniors in Ross County and evaluated the home for fall risks, and educated the homeowners on fall prevention.
  • Dementia Care: Two classmates and I led a small group at a local assisted living facility (Hill View Retirement Community, Portsmouth, Ohio) consisting of an orientation activity, a gross motor activity, and a fine motor craft activity. I performed cognitive assessments for one resident and wrote up a summary of possible suggestions for staff when working with the resident in order to improve their quality of care.

From these programs and the OSA experience, I have sharpened my leadership skills and have become more knowledgeable in the roles of other professionals when caring for older adults. These programs have not only improved the skills needed for my future career of an occupational therapist, but they broadened my appreciation for the other professionals that are dedicated to quality care for seniors. OSA was a great way to become more familiar in the policy regarding older adults, and I was able to network with my future colleagues in the field of aging.

Collena “Lena” Rhodes

Theresa Medrano

Theresa Medrano

Kent State University

2017

“Both my experience with Menorah Park and the Ohio Scholars of Aging program have provided me with the necessary skill set and information I will need to continue my career path in Nursing Home Administration.”

I am a current student of Kent State University majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Nursing Home Administration. This past fall and spring semester, I received the opportunity to work as an Administrator in Training at Menorah Park in Beachwood, OH. Menorah Park is a nonprofit continuing care retirement community that enables residents to remain in familiar settings as they age.

For my project, I was instructed to perform an analysis of each department’s strengths and where improvements could be made. This was essential to the rebranding of Menorah Park for January of 2017 and the entrance of their new CEO. One of the obstacles I faced was matching schedules with the departments to have a substantial amount of time to observe them. Another obstacle was identifying what could be improved in each department. However, through this project I received the opportunity to present my findings to the CEO, who was able to use this information to further the advancement of the campus.

Throughout this experience, I worked closely with my preceptor and many of the department directors on campus while acquiring a plethora of information concerning long term care. I also acquired information concerning the different services that Menorah Park offers such as the Peter B. Lewis Aquatic Center, the Center for Brain Health, and the Cardiopulmonary Rehab.

It was a privilege to be a part of the Ohio Scholars of Aging program and meet scholars with similar interest in the field of long term care. Through this program I was able to network with a variety of professionals at the Ohio Association of Gerontology and Education Conference and at the Ohio Department of Aging. I learned about many of the programs the Ohio Department of Aging offers and how they are continuously working to improve the quality of life of those who are aging. I also received the opportunity to learn more about Medicare, Medicaid, and aging related policies. Both my experience with Menorah Park and the Ohio Scholars of Aging program have provided me with the necessary skill set and information I will need to continue my career path in Nursing Home Administration.