RU–Camden Nursing Students Give Health Support To Local Elderly

Nursing students Emily Kahn, Erica McGrier, Yaazmyn Rosa, Taylor Johnson, and Carmen Iossa with Northgate II resident Armado Picox. Photo credit: Rutgers University–Camden.

CAMDEN, N.J. — Rutgers University–Camden students in the accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program are among a team of health care workers and social workers who are providing in-home consultations to solve complex care issues for elderly residents in Camden.

The students’ weekly visit to Camden’s Northgate II affordable housing complex helps residents manage their healthcare needs 

“What you’re learning in class, you’re able to put it in practice,” Rutgers student Yaazmyn Rosa, who is graduating in January 2020, said in a press release.

The students use the “Age-Friendly 4Ms Framework,” a national movement sponsored by the John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, in order to conduct health assessments. The framework evaluates any medications they are taking, mentation, and mobility. Students check for health issues common to elders, including depression, dementia, and risk for falls; review medications; and advise residents on health-related issues that are important to them.

Nursing student Emily Kahn of Cherry Hill said many senior citizens do not know where to start when they are experiencing health or social problems.

 “I think having someone to talk to and go through the assessment process with them is important,” Kahn said. “We ask them, are you able to do these things by yourself? Just because a person looks like they are able to take care of themselves, and bathe themselves, and clean their house, and get themselves dressed in the morning, doesn’t always mean they feel confident doing so.”

Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden students have been working with Northgate II residents through the New Jersey Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (NJGWEP) since 2018, led by the Rowan School of Osteopathic Medicine (SOM). 

The NJGWEP is funded by a $3.75 million grant to the Rowan SOM from the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  The program supports grantees in developing a health care workforce that is prepared to integrate geriatric practice into primary care and promote best practices in caring for older individuals. The program provides a framework that allows residents and their families to participate in decision-making and is based on person-centered care.

“The program builds interprofessional collaboration into the experience,” Margaret Avallone, a clinical assistant professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing‒Camden and leader of the project for Rutgers–Camden’s involvement in the NJGWEP grant said. “Learning to work in teams is so important because that is how they’re going to work after they graduate.”