Salem State Students Bring Positive Change to NSES’ Residential Services Program at Fairweather Apartments

There’s been a buzz of activity and positive energy surrounding the residents of Salem’s Fairweather Apartments for the past six weeks. Each Wednesday morning during that six week period, six Nursing students and six Occupational Therapist students from Salem State University joined the residents in the community room of Fairweather as part of their Public Health Clinical Placement.  North Shore Elder Services’ Client Services Supervisor, Mia Cloonan, describes the collaboration between Salem State University and North Shore Elder Services’ Residential Services program as a huge success.

“We have seen many positive changes for our residents at Fairweather, brought about by Carol Gawrys, the Salem State University faculty advisor for the program working onsite with the students and with the North Shore Elder Services’ Resident Services Coordinator at Fairweather, Lanna Walsh.”

Lanna has held this position for less than two months but brought with her twenty-five years of experience in social services, working most recently with the homeless population in Lynn for the past seven years and was a Resident Coordinator in settings in Peabody, Marblehead, and Cape Cod.  “It is my goal to create a healthy environment at Fairweather so residents can engage with one another and feel safe doing so.  We also want to educate the residents about the services that may be available to them through North Shore Elder Services and help them plan accordingly.”

Lanna credits the program with the students from Salem State as critical to fostering a healthy atmosphere at Fairweather. “The residents understand that they are an important part in the students learning about community nursing.  We have a mutual sharing between residents and students.  The students are amazing.  They have brought warmth and enthusiasm to our residents.  The program has helped bring the community together.  Residents are getting to know one another and have formed friendships.”

Lauren, one of the nursing students feels “it’s been great getting the community together and making residents’ lives more positive and active.” And one resident, Warren believes the guidance he has received particularly to exercise, has been more helpful than what he has learned from some of the hospitals.

Various stations are set up and the students are available to read and record blood pressure, teach residents exercises and relaxation, offer nutrition counseling, address safety issues for fall prevention, and participate in Arts and Crafts activities. There really is something for everyone.

With a very diverse population at Fairweather it has been challenging to bring residents together but Lanna believes this program with the students has helped her tremendously in making a smooth transition in her role.

“This program has been a life saver. More activities are happening now because of engagement with the residents.  I’ve been working in social services for twenty-five years and this has been the most successful and most rewarding program for everyone involved.  The students have had such an impact on residents and management staff.”

Mia Cloonan declares that Lanna “fits the role to a ‘T’. She has developed a great working rapport with management staff at Fairweather.  She has a ‘team approach’ and everyone at Fairweather is happy to have her there.  Lanna is invested in the mission of supportive housing and is the foundation of the success of this program.  She is helping to bring things together.”

The final meeting of these twelve students and the residents was a Health and Wellness Fair for which the Wenham Tea House brought a selection of fine teas and delicious pastries. There were stations for balance and strength testing, prescription and med management, blood pressure, low vision and relaxation and meditation strategies.  It clearly brought some new residents to join in and allowed them an opportunity to interact with one another.

After the wrap up of the six week program North Shore Elder Services invited the Salem State students and faculty from the Nursing and Occupational Therapy programs, (Carol Gawrys, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing; Jeramie Silveira, Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy; and Jeanne Corcoran, Professor and Chairperson of Occupational Therapy) to a luncheon at North Shore Elder Services in which NSES Nursing staff joined in to share their experiences and answer questions regarding community nursing.

With the success of the six week program comes the anticipation of another group of students next semester. In the meantime, Lanna intends to continue offering a variety of activities during the same Wednesday morning time slot.

Congratulations to all who made this collaboration between Salem State University and North Shore Elder Services’ Supportive Housing program a possibility. From all reports it has been a great success for everyone involved and promises to bring continued success in the future.

Author Info

Jayne Girodat

Jayne Girodat is the Communications Specialist at North Shore Elder Services. Along with ten years in the position of Caregiver Support Specialist at another ASAP, Jayne was a long-distance caregiver to parents for the same amount of time. That experience serves as motivation to better understand the issues of aging and to engage people in conversations about those issues. Jayne's background in teaching contributes to her appreciation of social media as a tool to educate readers on aging concerns. "I love asking people questions. Everyone likes to be heard. When you ask and then listen, you'll find everyone has a story and some of those stories are gems. I think it is particularly important to hear the voices of our older adults. Those are the stories I really connect to and hope to bring to North Shore Elder Services' audience."

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