The NYU College of Nursing has managed to become a rare case — a program that combines the skills of nursing students with seniors citizens that need aid. Their work has gotten them noticed as they’ve recently been given a $200,000 grant by The Fan Fox & Leslie R. Samuels Foundation to continue their program.
Cynthia Maurer is the executive director at Visiting Neighbors NYC, a non-profit organization that helps senior citizens maintain their quality of life by pairing them with student volunteers. Maurer said the nursing students help older adults remain independent by providing homecare instead of forcing them into an institution.
“Most of these adults don’t always have family and friends to care for them, but still want to be interconnected in the community that they currently live within,” Maurer said. “This is a great collaborative program for seniors in NYU housing and the surrounding community.”
The idea of NYU students in the NYUCN providing care for the senior citizens connected to Visiting Neighbors began with the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The Village Square Tenants Association approached Visiting Neighbors, expressing concern for the senior citizens living within their designated apartments.
According to usnews.com, in 2030 the geriatric population — people 65 and older — will make up approximately 20 percent of the U.S. population. Yet, the country is currently facing a shortage of health care providers for this particular age group.
“This program is a wonderful way to engage the university in community nursing,” Maurer said. “These students have met amazing citizens from holocaust survivors, faculty, World War II survivors, playwrights and artists. It’s really incredible.”
Currently there are 12 last-year nursing students who are taking part in this program, six for each semester. However, Maurer said the impact these students have is incredible as they help between 120 to 200 seniors in a given semester.
Current NYUCN students like freshman Gillian Earl are eager to hear about this partnership as well.
“I think that [geriatric care] is such an important role of a nurse, but unfortunately not a lot of attention is paid to geriatric nursing,” Earl said. “It’s great that NYU is working to get nursing students involved and hopefully inspired to be more involved in the field. I would love to be involved in the program once I enter my clinicals.”
NYUCN freshman Aine Marie Policastro said the seriousness of geriatric care cannot be discounted and more attention needs to be paid to senior citizens.
“I honestly hadn’t thought about it that much until I read this book over break called ‘Mortality’ by Atul Gawande that observed how our healthcare system handled geriatric care, and it exposed that both time and money resources sometimes lead to the elderly being uncomfortable or unhappy in their medical care,” Policastro said. “This made me realize that geriatrics needs more attention so this program sounds amazing.”
The program is designed to emphasize the importance of geriatric care within the senior citizen’s own home and help maintain their self-reliance.
“There’s no place like home, and there’s a reason people say that,” Maurer said.
Email Suhana Jagadesan at [email protected]