Academic journal article Nursing and Health Care Perspectives

Community Partnership

Academic journal article Nursing and Health Care Perspectives

Community Partnership

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT A southeastern university school of nursing responded to a request by a local housing authority to provide nursing care and health promotion to the residents of three high-rise complexes for independent living for seniors. This service-learning partnership offers differing educational benefits to graduate and undergraduate nursing students while helping residents remain as well as possible.

A School of Nursing Creates Nursing Centers for Older Adults

* What is the value of service learning?

* What should be the collaborative relationship between undergraduate nursing students and students in a nurse practitioner program?

* Why is it important for nursing students to collaborate with students in other health care and service careers?

* How do schools of nursing positively influence their students' attitudes about caring for older adults?

* Why should a university school of nursing "adopt" residential complexes for seniors?

ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS have been addressed through a partnership between a school of nursing and a local housing authority. This partnership, which brings health promotion to a population of independently living older adults residing in high-rise complexes, uses service learning as an educational model. In this context, service learning is defined as a "structured learning experience that combines community service with explicit learning objectives, preparation, and reflection" (I). Theory is applied to practice, which has a positive impact on the lives of many elderly residents of the community.

Defining the Problem As the health care system becomes more community focused, nursing students must experience a variety of settings and be prepared to deliver care where the population resides. A southeastern university school of nursing responded to a request by a local housing authority to provide nursing care to the residents of three high-rise complexes for independent living for seniors. The curricular need for health promotion and a focus on aggregate care provided the impetus to examine these sites.

During the late 1960s and 1970s, many multistory housing complexes for the elderly were built and run by local housing authorities with federal assistance from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) (2). In recent years, the building of community residential facilities has accelerated to meet the needs of the growing population of older adults. Currently, 95 percent of the elderly in the United States live in the community, independently or interdependently with the support of friends, family, or community services (3).

Many chronically ill elderly remain unsupported, however, and over 80 percent have at least one chronic illness (4). "Use of the emergency department for primary care and secondary care continues. Insufficient knowledge and resources for self-managed care effectively continues" (5, p. 56). Most residents of HUD complexes for the elderly are prescribed multiple medications, have limited funds, and have few options for transportation to obtain health care, but health care has not typically been a component of HUD facilities.

A nursing center partnership with residential complexes for the elderly provides opportunities for senior nursing students in a Community Health Nursing course to meet the following objectives:

* Analysis of the environmental impact upon the health of individuals, families, groups, and communities.

* Application of epidemiological findings in caring for individuals, families, and populations at risk in the community.

* Coordination and use of community resources in providing care.

* The art of caring for individuals and families in their homes.

For nurse practitioner students, the partnership serves to meet three educational objectives: skill development in physical assessment, early case findings, and a better understanding of the normal aging process. …

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