Community Service is a requirement of our program. You may wonder what it really entails. How do you choose something that will spark your interest, keep your attention and cultivate your passion, especially when you are already steeped in a myriad of other requirements to complete your neurologic clinical PT residency?
…by asking yourself ‘how would I like to serve my community?’ Some Residents come with clear ideas and interests based upon their past experiences with community service. Some have keen curiosities about developing their interests in a particular neurologic condition, while others are open to doing whatever is needed to fulfill this requirement of the program. Following is a story of passion and purpose that may help you create your own story as you consider your skills, abilities, interests and desires for community service.
IDENTIFYING A NEED
During our program year 2012-13, one Resident entertained the idea of doing something related to Parkinson’s disease, whereas the other was uncertain; both were open to meeting community needs that had already been identified. A faculty member, who had been consulting on fall prevention with a county-wide organization, had the foresight to bring the organization and the Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency together, creating a win-win situation for both.
PARTNERSHIP AND MUTUAL NEEDS
The Adult Day Services Network of Alameda County (ADSNAC) is that partner organization. It is an association of 13 non-profit adult day programs throughout Alameda County, California that serves over 4,000 frail seniors and adults with disabilities. They provide adult day services, such as socialization, engaging activities, health care services and exercise, which allow these seniors to remain living at home. The majority of the on-site staff workers are trained on-the-job although there are a few professionally trained health care workers at most sites. Additionally, ADSNAC promotes education for families, caregivers, staff and professionals throughout the communities they serve.
For the past 8 years, ADSNAC has been funded through a grant with the Alameda County Area Agency on Aging to coordinate an injury prevention program among local adult day centers. It was through this program that the Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency partnered with ADSNAC and enabled the latter to expand their training to staff and family/community caregivers.
PURPOSE IN COMMUNITY SERVICE
Our PT Residents and core faculty mentor provided a collective total of 126 hours of on-site service at Hong Fook Adult Day Center in Oakland. The majority of Hong Fook’s seniors speak only in their native tongues of Cantonese, Mandarin, Vietnamese or Korean. Thus, all interactions with clients and families were facilitated with the help of interpreters; this presented a new experience for our Residents. Our volunteer services included presentations on body mechanics, transfers, gait/guarding and exercise. A focal point of each presentation to staff was how to develop safe, fun and challenging progressions for daily exercise routines. Many of the exercise program attendees are in wheelchairs and have dementia or other conditions which make exercise challenging; thus, it was even more important for staff to gain an understanding of exercise progression while meeting the needs of the individual participants. Pre-and post-testing of 20 residents attending the daily exercise classes yielded positive and promising results about the success of this collaborative effort. In addition to training, the Residents held office hours to consult with staff that had questions about implementing ideas in their exercise classes and/or needed guidance with specific individuals.
PASSION IN COMMUNITY SERVICE
Perhaps the Residents’ biggest challenge was to prepare and present a qualified continuing education course for ADSNAC PTs and OTs, many with far more years of clinical experience than either of our Residents. There is a Japanese saying “To teach is the center of to learn”, and it was in teaching that our Residents honed their own learning. They gathered and reviewed the latest research on Motor Learning and discussed ways to translate that research into practical clinical strategies for working with those who live with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease and the effects of strokes. One participant’s comment about the training reflects the value of this kind of collaboration: “…it was so relevant to working in the ADHC settings. I received more relevant information in 3 hours than in some 2 day trainings.”
Although our Residents graduated from our program, their passion for this community work continues with their desire to share this experience with a larger PT community. They are preparing a proposal to present a poster at the 2014 California Physical Therapy Association annual conference.
It seems fitting to conclude with this Chinese Proverb “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand”. It is in this spirit that we require and hold Community Service to be an integral part of the education of all Residents in our Neurologic Physical Therapy Residency program.