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In all realms of nursing, from the emergency room, to the physician’s office and even in pediatric units when a child is being raised by a grandparent; nurses are bound to encounter a growing number of elder adults, as the over-85 age group is the fastest-growing demographic. Among these, 10-50% older adults may be experiencing a cognitive disorder. The need for well-qualified geriatric nurses is exploding while the folks entering the field remain low. For this and other reasons, since February 2018, Dolan Memory Care Homes began actively partnering with Senior Chamberlain College of Nursing Students by hosting their 8-week clinical rotation in Community Health Nursing course. Planning was done months is advance to assure all of Dolan and Chamberlains expectations and requirements could be successfully achieved. Since then, we have hosted five rotations of 6-8 student nurses nearing graduation, for 2 days a week on our Les Maison Campus.

All students go through an orientation similar to that offered to our regular staff, which emphasizes the unique challenges and opportunities inherent in caring for persons with dementia. They are grounded in Dolan Memory Care’s example of person-centered care philosophy, customer service and non -pharmacological interventions with our residents. They are co-supervised and mentored in real time and in real situations by Dolan Nurse Managers and their own instructor from Chamberlain College of Nursing, who stays on site with them for the entire rotation.

The rewards and benefits have been mutual and we evaluate each rotation from both the students’ and our managers’ perspectives. Residents gain more one-on-one time, encouragement to eat well and participate in a variety of activities from active yoga practice to becoming a welcoming audience for Big Muddy Dance Company and more. The nursing students learn how to deliver treatments and therapies to persons with dementia while gaining useful knowledge about the unique challenges resident with memory loss face in performing activities of daily living and remaining fully and meaningfully engaged, while feeling safe and valued. They learn that a social model of care often gets better results than a highly technology-driven, medicalized model of care.

Nursing students who have participated in the program have these great remarks about the partnership:
“This has been a great experience and has helped me become a better Nurse.”

“It was great to learn how to work effectively with persons with dementia; learning how to build relationships and programs that meet their needs was very helpful.”

And the nurses of Dolan Memory Care Homes said “These students were extremely proactive and helpful; willing to jump in when needed and they adapted quickly to this unique environment. I have no complaints except I wish they were here longer.”

Now that the initial pilot phase for the partnership has been tested, Dolan and Chamberlain hope to expand the reach of the program to more Dolan Houses in the future. Thank you Chamberlain and Dolan Nurse Managers for making a success of this win-win opportunity!

Person Centered Care