Carolyn Triemstra, Community and Health Studies (CHS) and School of Business & Management, Niagara College, Canada
Alison Ryder, Niagara College, Canada
Jaclyn Frail, Niagara College, Canada
Kristine Clark, Niagara College, Canada
Christine Wilkinson, Niagara College, Canada
As a College of Applied Arts and Technology, Niagara College (NC) is a leader in applied education and a key contributor to the economies of Niagara and Ontario.
Within the Community and Health Studies (CHS) division, administration, faculty and students actively embrace an age-friendly environment, both on campus and through our many community connections. Invaluable feedback from stakeholders such as community agencies, NC retirees’ club, Niagara Aging Strategy Committee, and Life-Long Learning chapter have highlighted the importance of formalized training within the curriculum for students to best understand, serve and care for seniors of varying abilities. To that end, the CHS division has adopted numerous partnerships, practices and training initiatives to support students, seniors and community agencies. The on-campus initiatives include items such as:
- An on-campus living lab, in partnership with several senior focused community service providers, provides a reciprocal learning environment that focuses on seniors remaining healthy, safe and strong in their own homes;
- a post graduate certificate in gerontology;
- course work focusing on interprofessional education for all health students;
- Virtual Dementia Training delivered to over one thousand students in fourteen programs per academic year;
- Course based hands on activities for seniors and students and;
- Course-based applied research projects in Recreation Therapy
This Symposium will use these examples to:
- Identify the benefits of community collaboration for learners, seniors and community agencies
- Identify methods of positively influencing significant numbers of learners to value the age friendly movement
- Highlight methods of connecting seniors to their local post-secondary institution.
- Niagara College, an Age Friendly Institution
Presenter #1, Carolyn Triemstra
Niagara College Community & Health Studies (CHS) division is well positioned to embrace our Age Friendly University status, supporting the various older adult populations in our community as well as preparing pre- licensure students for the various contact points with older adults they will come to experience during their professional careers. This session will be a high-level overview of the many divisional initiatives we support both on campus and within our community through grants, vocational curriculum and experiential learning endeavors.
Presenter #2, Alison Ryder
Niagara College Dementia Experience
The Niagara College Dementia Experience (NCDE) is a hands-on learning opportunity that provides students a safe, non-threatening environment, where symptoms of aging associated with dementia are simulated. This interactive simulation uses pre and post surveys as well as an unstructured debrief to reinforce learning, where parallels are outlined between the participants’ exhibited behaviours and those of individuals living with dementia. With a focus on increasing empathy and understanding responsive behaviours, the NCDE provides our students with an opportunity to develop a greater insight into the patient experience, which may impact their future provision of compassionate care.
Presenter #3, Jaclyn Frail and Kristine Clark
How Emotional Intelligence (EI) competencies can lead to enhanced patient interactions and collaboration
In the health care field, while educational institutions equip students with the specific technical knowledge and abilities to enter their discipline, employers have recognized that preparation in Emotional Intelligence (EI) competencies can lead to enhanced patient interactions and collaboration in the workplace. Additionally, research has recognized the benefit of teaching EI to post-secondary students and proposed that EI modules be integrated into curriculum, specifically in programs that wish to increase graduate employability. Moreover, health industry experts have expressed the need to train healthcare professionals in emotional intelligence and that preparation needs to begin at the post-secondary level.
The faculty in the School of Business & Management and Community & Health Studies division at Niagara College have collaborated on a research study to examine the impact of a 6-hour emotional intelligence (EI) learning module will have on students’ EI and preparation for work in the health care field. The embedded EI modules into the health curriculum encompasses standardized patients, which simulate industry relevant scenarios to help contextualize EI in the healthcare field. The study aims to learn more about the experiences of students participating in the EI learning intervention. The research will also examine the phenomenon of EI across interdisciplinary health care fields. Presenters will share the findings of this research project and review the EI curriculum developed for this health program course. Participants will have an opportunity to practice some of the evidence-based strategies used in the curriculum. In addition, an opportunity to experience a Virtual Reality [VR] tool that will immerse participants in the standardized patient scenarios used in the study will be provided.
Presenter #4, Christine Wilkinson
Connecting isolated seniors through virtual programming
The restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic led to increased social isolation and loneliness amongst older adults living in long term care and retirement homes. Limitations placed on outside visitors, programs, and accessing areas of the home and community, required creative and immediate intervention methods to increase socialization, wellness, and overall quality of life. Virtual programming and connecting with others through technology gives older adults emotional support and cognitive stimulation, ultimately reducing loneliness and social isolation. Through innovative partnerships with many long term care and retirement homes, NC Recreation Therapy students, have provided hundreds of virtual programs, visits, and conversations with older adults since the start of the pandemic. By leveraging the knowledge and expertise the NC students have acquired through their curriculum, older adults have shared in meaningful interactions and creative experiences tailored to their strengths, interests, and abilities.