The initiative began with a partnership between the University of Minnesota and Augustana Care. “We continue to look for new ways to teach geriatrics,” says Dr. Edward Ratner, associate professor of medicine at the University of Minnesota and medical director of Heartland Home Health Care in Roseville.
For eleven years, Dr. Ratner brought university medical students to Augustana Care Center while he made his rounds, so he could introduce them to working with older adults. In 2008, he approached Augustana Care with the idea of supplying discounted housing to medical students who could learn from residents while living alongside them. “Housing for older adults can be very segregated,” says Dr. Ratner. “There is little exposure to younger generations and the potential for much loneliness.”
New Students, New Disciplines
Soon after the program began, seminary students started to participate and moved to Augustana Apartments in Minneapolis and the Augustana Apple Valley campus. Their experiences are helping them learn more about how to provide spiritual care.
In recent years, the initiative has expanded to include students from other universities and colleges who are majoring in health-related disciplines. Students eat meals with residents, attend social, recreational or religious activities and help residents in a variety of ways. Both generations say they benefit greatly from their new connections. While students might help residents with tasks or transportation, older residents have the opportunity to mentor or advise students about life experiences.
Read about a student’s experience here.
To learn more about the program, please call Tammy Ferderer, social worker at Augustana Apartments in Minneapolis, at 612-238-5261.