Each semester at Loyola, approximately 30-40 future R.N.s convene on the Pat Crowley House and the Nathalie Salmon House to commit to a 12 to 15-week health partnership with H.O.M.E. residents that fulfills the school’s requirement for community outreach as part of its nursing degree.
A senior Loyola staffer oversees the students during their weekly visits, in which they are each paired with one or more “patients” in a friendship relationship where any or all of the residents’ health issues and concerns, depending on the resident’s desired interest, are addressed.
“What’s great is the focus is so different when you’re in somebody’s home and you’re their guest,” says Jan McCarron, a director of nursing at Loyola who, for the last five years, has provided guidance to the nursing students as she travels with them to their weekly site visits at H.O.M.E. “It’s not at all like walking into a hospital room with a big fat chart you’ve just been handed and you only see the person maybe once before they’re discharged.
“At H.O.M.E. it’s just you coming into the door and it builds critical thinking skills to find out the needs of the ‘patient.’ In order to do that, you must first develop that trusting rapport and that’s another critical skill."
One of the key benefits for the residents is the students invariably discover undetected or ignored health concerns and/or ways to improve aspects of their health they were previously unaware of or had given up on finding a solution for.
The health issues addressed can range from dental, foot care and vision problems to elevated blood sugar and blood pressure issues and underlying infections and chronic warning signs for disease and cancer.
“The students have made great catches over the years that might not have otherwise happened,” says Caren Arden-Tabani, director of housing for both PCH and NSH. “The residents look forward to them coming and having this ear to listen. Sometimes they will share things that don’t otherwise get mentioned. Often, the resident doesn’t think something’s important but sometimes turns out to be a huge deal.”
Over the years, residents have even attended the graduation ceremonies of the nurses. The students, in turn, have been so influenced by the residents and the H.O.M.E. atmosphere at times that career choices are made in the area of home healthcare agencies.
Senior nursing student Valerie Carillo, 21, says that since she started making “house calls” to NSH in September “it’s opened a new door of healthcare I never thought about.”
Carillo says, “These are people who don’t want to go to a nursing home or assisted-living facility and it’s very interesting to see them in their own residence. I feel like since I’m visiting them in their home, it’s less stressful and they’re freer to say what they want; it’s a less-structured environment. There’s much less time constraint than when you see someone in a hospital room and you get to spend time really getting to know them—looking at their pictures, sharing stories, just hanging out and talking.”
To learn more about Loyola's nursing program click here.
The photos are courtesy of Loyola University Chicago