New Faces and Helping Hands at a Retirement Community

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By Nancy Nolan, Director of Marketing & PR, Foulkeways at Gwynedd

Thomas Jefferson University’s School of Nursing in Philadelphia, Pa. graduates approximately 220 nurses annually.  For the first time in the School‘s history, a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC) has been added to their roster of hands-on training sites.

Group of Nursing Students at Foulkeways Retirement Community

For the first time in the Thomas Jefferson University School of Nursing‘s history, a group of students were able to receive their hands-on training at Foulkeways at Gwynedd, a Continuing Care Retirement Community.

Students, as part of their curriculum, are required to complete their clinical practicum in a variety of specialties such as Medical/Surgical, Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Community Health Nursing. Foulkeways at Gwynedd, the first CCRC in Pennsylvania and the first Quaker CCRC on the East Coast, recently hosted 24 students from the 2012 graduating class; 16 from their traditional, 4-year Baccalaureate Nursing Program and eight from their Facilitated Academic Coursework Tract or FACT Program.  FACT students have already obtained their degree in another field of study such as Biology, Social Work, or Chemistry, and will complete the Jefferson Nursing Program in one full calendar year.

From January through April of this year, three groups of eight Jefferson students worked alongside the nurse practitioners and resident care nurse in the Foulkeways Resident Health Center, assisting with the Wellness Program, and with nurses and nurse assistants in the community’s Memory Support and Personal Care facility, Abington House.   Students also worked with the onsite fitness director and her staff in the Fitness Center and indoor pool; with child care providers in the Child Care Center and Pre-School; and with nurse administrators collecting data, which will be used in the community’s new, computerized record-keeping system.  Students not assigned to the CCRC were completing their community Health assignment spending time with school nurses, community-based visiting nurses and with correctional institution nurses at various facilities.

All of the students spent two to three days a week, depending on their group assignment, getting hands-on experience in Community Service Nursing in a retirement community setting.  They also conducted weekly resident-targeted health lectures, covering subjects such as ‘Breathing Easy,’  ‘Heart Health’ and ‘Mental Agility,’ to name just a few.  These lectures not only provided the students with experience in public speaking, but were beneficial team-building exercises as they worked in groups to prepare audiovisual and interactive materials for the residents.

According to Judy Masiak, RN, MSN, a member of the Clinical Adjunct Facility at Jefferson who initiated the students’ training program with Foulkeways Director of Health Services/Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, Mary Knapp, MSN, CRNP, NHA, FAAN, “Many of my students had only been involved in caring for seniors in a hospital setting – so different from the active lifestyle represented at this community.   Jefferson was thrilled to be able to introduce a retirement community environment offered by Foulkeways into our training curriculum.”

“When we arrived, residents took us on a tour of the community, and we were blown away.  We asked ourselves ‘Where are all the frail old people?’  What we saw were all these healthy people, rushing about,” said student Kevin Ho.  “The whole experience was unexpected and terrific.  Our expectations were so different from what we experienced. We were so impressed we’ve all started saving up so we can come here when we retire!” exclaimed Ho.

“We didn’t know anything about Continuing Care Retirement Communities before we went there,” noted student Gernise Graves, “The residents were healthy and active.  We have a whole new appreciation of the term, ‘retirement years.’”

“In home health care, every day is different,” explained student Reesa Greene.  “At Foulkeways we were spending time in the Fitness Center, in resident care, child care and many other areas.   Where else can I see a 100-year-old resident one day then play with and care for an infant the following day?  We loved this rotation!”

Foulkeways has enjoyed the new affiliation as well.  Residents have been eager to connect with the Jefferson students and encourage them in their chosen career path.  “They are bright and energetic and it was invigorating to have them here.   We were just hoping they could keep up with us,” joked 92-year-old resident, Rudi Grun.


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