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CARIE (Center for Advocacy for the Rights & Interests of the Elderly)

Advocating for an Increase to the Personal Needs Allowance in PA (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Rory Milsark, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

Anjali Pradhan, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
James Buehler, MD, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

Community Preceptor:
Lori Walsh, MPPM, Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of Elders

Community Site: 

The Center for Advocacy for the Rights and Interests of Elders (CARIE) is a Philadelphia-based group whose work includes education on elders’ rights, efforts to change local and state legislation to better serve elders, and the dissemination of free information pertaining to difficulties elders experience. In addition to advocacy work, CARIE also maintains a free hotline for anyone who has questions or concerns about elder rights and social issues. CARIE’s long-term care (LTC) ombudsman is responsible for compliance management and advocacy on behalf of long-term care residents who have experienced a violation of their rights.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns worked on an advocacy project focused on increasing the personal needs allowance (PNA) for adults living in nursing homes in Pennsylvania. This work included research to understand the legislative process as well as legal terms associated with the PNA. The interns also conducted interviews in nursing homes in Philadelphia and Montgomery County to understand the views of residents on the need for an increased personal needs allowance. These interviews will be used for a CARIE social media campaign with the goal of educating legislators and advocates about the PNA. The interns also pulled together additional resources such as a call-to-action pamphlet and brief background paper for CARIE to use in the future.

Intern Reflections: 

Rory Milsark: “My experience at CARIE has been eye-opening to a world of issues and logistics I knew little of. There are so many issues that people are advocating for, and it happens in every state. It has been interesting to learn about the connection between advocacy groups like CARIE and the state government. CARIE has a lot more authority than I knew. The government relies on CARIE’s opinion and data before they make decisions, and CARIE and other groups have serious sway in terms of legislative support. CARIE has the power to introduce new bills through political champions, and that is exactly what they were initially hoping to do before being blindsided by HB 1606.”

 

Anjali Pradhan: “I found my experience at CARIE to be extremely insightful. I appreciated the opportunity to learn about the personal needs allowance and how it impacts individuals living in nursing homes. Additionally, I enjoyed learning about the legislative process and the work and research that goes into advocating for an issue like this one. However, my favorite part of this experience has been speaking with older adults in nursing homes. Hearing their stories and how the PNA impacts them was eye-opening. I hope that the work that we did at CARIE this summer can contribute to improving the lives of nursing home residents in some way.”

 

Center in the Park 

 

Assessing Health, Wellness, and Diversity Among the 55+ Community at Center in the Park (click to view poster)

 

Student Interns:

Jacob Beckman, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Olamide Sowole, Temple University, College of Public Health

Denise Swygert-Huzzy, Temple University, School of Social Work – College of Public Health

Academic Preceptor:

Ingrid Mapanao, MSW, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Brian Work, MD, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Jerome Wright, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Community Preceptor: 

Cleo Smalls, MBA, Center Director, Center in the Park

Community Site: 
Center in the Park (CIP) is a nationally accredited nonprofit senior community center dedicated to promoting positive aging and fostering community connections for its older adult members. The Center provides older adults an opportunity to engage their minds, bodies, and spirits, asserting that growth and learning are lifelong pursuits. Located in the Germantown neighborhood of Northwest Philadelphia, Center in the Park is available to adults 55+ from across the city. The Center offers community support and programming, ranging from exercise and dance classes, piano lessons, and art classes to housing counseling, nutrition assistance, and an on-site social worker.  

Project: 

The Bridging the Gaps student interns were assigned individual projects focused on addressing areas of potential growth for the Center to be presented to the staff leadership team at the conclusion of the program. The interns also created two separate presentations — one focused on health and wellness and the other on technology proficiency — and presented them to small groups of CIP members interested in the subjects. In conjunction with their assigned tasks, each intern also spent the summer engaging with CIP members and staff during community events such as the Juneteenth celebration and by sitting in on workshops and distributing Philadelphia Corporation for Aging produce vouchers. Many meaningful relationships were built along the way.

Intern Reflections:

Jacob Beckman: “I am incredibly grateful to have spent the summer working with and learning from the wonderful members and staff at Center in the Park. Prior to my time with CIP, most of my interactions with older adults were in the context of healthcare, a setting defined by illness that provides an incomplete understanding of what it means to grow old. Conversely, CIP has imparted a refreshing and invaluable perspective on aging encapsulated by one of the Center’s favorite slogans: “You’re never too old, and it’s never too late.” I appreciate the members at CIP for embracing my team of Bridging the Gaps interns and sharing their stories of triumph, hardship, resilience, and their excitement for their community and their future. The support, wisdom, and kindness that I received there will stick with me for the rest of my life and will undoubtedly inform my practice as a future physician.”

 

Olamide Sowole: “During my time at CIP, I have learned a great deal about the value of healthy aging and the need for its promotion. Rather than neglecting the social needs of the elderly, CIP acts as a resource for nurturing, fostering, and promoting holistic social and behavioral services to assist Germantown’s aging population. Additionally, working with fellow BTG interns has helped me to see the advantage of incorporating diverse perspectives into the organizational and customer-facing structure of a nongovernmental organization devoted to surmounting the odds in a capitalist-driven economy. CIP stands as a monument of the population health model of providing systematic intervention to a vulnerable population.”

 

Denise Swygert-Huzzy: “Time was exceptionally well spent during the Bridging the Gaps internship at Center in the Park. There was a myriad of personalized experiences with CIP’s lovely 55+ aging population, including impromptu discussions, planned activities, live interviews, their Juneteenth celebration, and honoring birthday celebrants of the month. This Bridging the Gaps Community Health Internship Program allowed space for up-close involvement with the members of the CIP community to connect with the 55+ citizens aging positively and living in the Germantown area. The COVID-19 pandemic unfortunately affected many in the CIP community by way of depression. The CIP members reported that isolation during the quarantine phase was brutal as well as suffering the deaths of family members and close friends due to complications with the virus. As a school social worker pursuing a Master of Social Work, connecting with some of Philadelphia’s aging population has prompted me to consider a concentration in geriatrics after graduation. The BTG experience will undoubtedly enhance how I move forward in my social work career.”

 

Lutheran Settlement House 

Combating Food Insecurity and Promoting Wellness at Lutheran Settlement House (click to view poster)

Student Interns:

Zoie Bissic, Temple University, School of Social Work – College of Public Health

Jared Dickson, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Academic Preceptor:

Ingrid Mapanao, MSW, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Brian Work, MD, MPH, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Jerome Wright, Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University

Community Preceptor:
Meg Finley, Senior Services and Nutrition Director, Lutheran Settlement House

Community Site: 
Founded in 1902, Lutheran Settlement House (LSH) provides a wide range of services to more than 6,000 members of the Philadelphia community each year. The senior center at LSH holds activities, informational sessions, and meals throughout the week for members’ wellness and enjoyment. LSH provides food services through their Hungry to Healthy program for the community of Fishtown and surrounding areas. There is a food pantry Monday through Friday, and LSH distributes fresh produce and other perishable goods as part of their Choice Pantry and Fresh Farm Stand every Thursday. LSH offers services to those experiencing housing insecurity through the Jane Addams Place, which works with LSH to provide shelter to families across Philadelphia. Additionally, LSH offers domestic violence services that provide counseling and support for survivors of domestic violence.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student interns helped combat food insecurity and promote wellness at Lutheran Settlement House through its Hungry to Healthy program by serving as community advocates and pantry assistants. The interns organized food deliveries, packaged food for distribution, arranged the food pantry, and assisted over 150 community members weekly with signing-in and gathering their food items, and by entering new clients into the site’s database. The interns promoted healthy practices and wellness at the LSH senior center through a cardiovascular health and smoking cessation presentation. Additionally, they promoted oral health by distributing informational flyers and oral health supplies to community members at the food pantry.

Intern Reflections: 

Zoie Bissic: “The Bridging the Gaps internship program was an insightful experience for our development as healthcare professionals. Working with the Lutheran Settlement House in Fishtown gave me a lot of insight into the problems of the local community, but also visiting other BTG sites across Philly showed me multiple communities and their individual struggles. I’m grateful for my time with BTG because I don’t know if I would have been exposed to as many organizations that support individuals, families, and children in Philadelphia. Being able to serve many different communities was also extremely personally rewarding. Serving the community showed me that although we can’t save anyone with a brief interaction, we can work to help individuals feel supported by their community. The BTG program made me realize that one moment of support could help someone for a long time. I hope to use my memories from this experience to remember the importance of serving each client as an individual throughout my career as a future social worker.”

 

Jared Dickson: “Serving at Lutheran Settlement House this summer was an eye-opening and humbling experience. While I was aware that Philadelphia has a significant number of underserved populations, I lacked firsthand experiences that would allow me to understand the extensive hardships endured in these Philadelphia communities. Hearing about the health disparities in Philadelphia communities only goes so far, but my BTG experience at Lutheran Settlement House made these disparities, such as food insecurity, clear and definite. Listening to the stories and experiences of community members at my site taught me about the barriers many people face that prevent them from maintaining good health. However, the gratitude expressed by our food pantry clients each week demonstrated the impact that the simple service of providing a variety of fresh produce and nonperishable food items can have on the health and wellness of individuals. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve the Philadelphia community through Lutheran Settlement House, and I am confident that the experiences and lessons learned from this internship will prepare me well in caring, connecting, and listening to my future patients as a physician.”

Unitarian Universalist House, Outreach Program

 

Supporting Older Adults Through Healthy Aging and Independent Living (click to view poster)

Student Intern:
Nina Silver, Drexel University College of Medicine

Academic Preceptor:
James Buehler, MD, Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health

Community Preceptors:

Sara Popkin, MSW, LSW, UUH Outreach Program

Kate Timer, MSW, UUH Outreach Program

Community Site: 

UUH Outreach provides individualized quality professional care that is responsive to the physical, emotional, and intellectual needs of older adults in the Northwest Philadelphia community. UUH Outreach provides a wide range of services, such as social work support, health promotion, and access to community funds to help older adults make ends meet. The staff nurse consults with clients to help them better understand their care plans and encourages healthy living. UUH Outreach partners with multiple community agencies to ensure that older adults in Northwest Philadelphia have access to as many resources as possible.

Project: 
The Bridging the Gaps student intern’s primary role was to assist clients with decluttering their homes, assess community needs for the purpose of developing new programs, provide referrals to UUH staff who could assist clients with their needs, prepare and deliver a presentation for the community on oral health, and increase food access through the delivery of meals and helping clients sign up for fresh produce vouchers. The intern performed these duties via at-home client visits, making phone calls to clients, and compiling client resources. The intern also engaged with and learned about a variety of programs and funds accessible to older adults in Northwest Philly, including the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging’s emergency fund, multiple heat-relief programs that provide air-conditioning units to Philadelphians, and Center in the Park and its associated programs.

Intern Reflections: 
Nina Silver: “UUH Outreach’s staff and their commitment to the betterment of their clients’ lives was inspiring, and I was grateful to be able to assist these wonderful people in helping our elder community members. UUH Outreach gave me a better understanding of the world of social work, especially in-field social work, which I had had little experience with prior to the program. Every day I was impressed at how many people throughout Philadelphia were devoted to improving the lives of others. Each one of the agencies I worked with is now a resource I can provide to future clients or patients. Additionally, I further developed my skills in interacting with clients, which in turn boosted my confidence. My experience at UUH Outreach has no doubt played a pivotal role in my development as a physician, as it has helped me to better understand the social influences of health.”

CARIE
Center in the Park
Lutheran Settlement
UU House

Philadelphia 2023 

Older Adults summaries

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