Helen Spruill, Godwin Nursing Home
for wife go to d e p a r t u r e former paid for in "was arm- ,"'. but help Nursing Home Employes Learning Plight Of Old and the member Long role in of his be Walking around, with a handful of gravel in your shoes, your arm tied to your side and 'petroleum jelly smeared on your glasses will make you feel uncomfortable. It also will help you un- derstand some of the dif- ficulties faced by older people who have arthritis, stroke and cataracts. This is why hun- dreds of employes of Virginia's nursing homes have been simulating physical loss that often accompanies old age with these and other exercises. Experiencing directly the problems and handicaps of the patients they care for is part of an innovative program^ of education for health :care workers in Virginia funded by the Department Of Health, Education and Welfare. Of- ficials are so impressed by the success of the program designed and implemented by the Virginia Health Care Association that they have approved funding for an ad- ditional year.. Michael Greenfest, project director with the Virginia Health Care Association (VH- CA), says that the $39,500 allocated by the Federal government to develop the special training program "has not only proven itself as a pilot program, but, because of Its success, will be continued." ; Mrs. Pat McCarthy, ad- ministrator of Chippenbam Convalescent Center in Rich- mond, who chairs the VHCA education committee, says; "The program we have developed will allow many people involved in the care of geriatric patients to un- derstand some of the problems associated with aging and care for the aged for the first'time. Sensitivity training will help them identify with the han- dicaps and disabilities of the elderly who require our care. In the long run, we feel this will make them better able to care for and serve these patients." Greenfest points out that this is the first program to attempt t o p r o v i d e , c o n t i n u i n g education on a statewide basis to the persons performing essential services to this area ofhealthcare. ~ In the five months since the active training phase of the program began, 324 nursing home employes have r been" trained In new techniques and technologies, representing. 57 "nursing homes'in Virginia. Training sessions have: : in- cluded all levels of health care p e r s o n n e l , f r o m ad-- ministrators, registered .nurses and therapists to or- derlies, cooks, housekeepers and nursing aides. Before the year's program ends in June,'approximately 240 more people will have participated. Training sessions have provided 22 days of in- struction in communities across the state . including R i c h m o n d , R o a n o k e , Fredericksburg, Charlot- tesville, Hampton, Wytheville, Newport News and Wood- bridge. "We're more concerned with h u m a n r e l a t i o n s t h a n technological developments," says James Summers, director of c o n t i n u i n g m e education with the Medical Society of Virginia. The program has two primary components, says Greenfest, The first consists of sessions which train nursing home administrative-and n u r s i n g p e r s o n knowledge which they, in turn, will be imparting to their own staffs through Mn-service : education. The r second is a more general ; t r a i n i n g program open to all employes which alerts them to new ideas and methods in health care and reinforces. their practical knowledge with understanding of the needs and: behaviors of geriatric patients. Mrs. Helen Spruill, ad- ministrator of Louise C. Godwin Nursing 'Home in Norfolk, says the 1 Education Committee "has done a tremendous job",in filling the need for education and , bringing diverse' elements of nursing homes together. "The training is giving them a much better perspective of .what their roles !were in a nursing home," she continues. "This educational direction is something we have needed. For quite a long time, the Health Care Association had no way or means of training our own people. We often had to hire people experienced in areas of health care other than nursing homes with little or no geriatric experience. Now we have a program stressing this area."