Shawnee State University
During the first year of my journey with health care administration, I was given the opportunity working as an Ombudsman Associate with the Area Agency on Aging District 7 in Wheelersburg, Ohio. Through my internship with the Ombudsman, I witnessed problems and setbacks faced within long-term care facilities. One extreme situation I saw was the immediate shut-down of a nursing home, and residents of the home being forced to leave the night the closure was announced. Despite the closure, I was able to form bonds with residents and connect with them. By the end of the internship, I saw I helped solve a lot of problems with those living in long-term care facilities, and it empowered me to know I could assist them. The internship also allowed me to gain insight on how I could prevent issues as an administrator.
After my internship ended with the Ombudsman, I began another internship through the Give Back Go Forward program with my college, Shawnee State University, which I am completing. Through Give Back Go Forward, I have been able to meet and connect with low-income seniors living in Portsmouth, Ohio. Through our encounters, the main goal is to promote healthy eating and exercise by encouraging their attendance of a weekly congregate meal. In addition, I have bonded with the residents through bingo games, movie nights, holiday meals, etc. Being part of the program strengthened my desire to form emotional bonds with my residents and get to know them, which will be a crucial part of being an administrator; it is important for your residents to trust you as you are one of the main individuals responsible for ensuring they are happy in their final stage of life.
While I thought my experiences with the Give Back Go Forward program would be cut short due to the outbreak of COVID-19, I was able to challenge myself to continue finding ways to communicate with the residents I made bonds with. Currently, I am writing letters to residents and making weekly phone calls to check in with them, ask if there is anything they need, and, ultimately, be someone they can talk to and continue connecting with.
Similarly, my time with the Ohio Scholars in Aging Program has shown me how to overcome challenges, as well. When I was first accepted into the program, there was a set schedule to be followed to ensure we would learn and participate with as much as we could. The first meetings provided me with a better understanding of various facets of caring and advocating for the well-being of older adults. Further, the meetings presented with me opportunities to meet and speak with health care professionals through speed-networking, and I was able to connect with many of the individuals on the social media platform LinkedIn and communicate even more. Once the COVID-19 outbreak happened, our meetings changed to online, but, even then, I connected with those who shared the same desire for promoting the quality of life for older adults and their value in the world. The Ohio Scholars in Aging Program has guided me further into the field of gerontology, and I am so grateful with the experience it presented me and how I will be able to utilize it in both my future internships and my own career as a nursing home administrator.