My internship has been a wonderful experience, and I am so glad I have had the opportunity to work at Orchard Cove continuing care retirement community. Aside from the main tasks I was assigned to do, I was given a lot of flexibility to explore other areas of Orchard Cove. My supervisor helped set me up to become a CarFit technician, lead a vision board project, lead a field trip to a nature park, shadow an occupational therapist, survey some residents, gather surveys about Orchard Cove fitness, shadow her Vitalize 360 sessions, create flyers for events, and more. I was able to really see how a team worked and do my part in helping the team.
My knowledge of social justice work has expanded since working at Orchard Cove. Access to a stimulating and meaningful day to day experience for the elderly is not consistent across the elderly population of the United States. Orchard Cove serves a clientele that is mostly middle- to upper-class with significant financial resources and therefore there was substantial stimulating programming. However, what I discovered is that most such places do not have this level of care, and that it is a privilege that Orchard Cove has these resources and opportunities. Other places around the country trying to do the Vitalize 360 program don’t necessarily have the interdisciplinary team and the resources to best support the program. If social justice means having equal opportunity to care without regards to financial resources, than the current situation is inequitable.
The biggest impact I would say I made was helping to strengthen the process of the Vitalize 360 Program. Just recently, my supervisor and I solidified a list of teachable steps for the program to use to train other coaches. We made a list for how the program works for new residents and how it works for current residents already participating in the program. In making the overall steps of this process, we were able to figure out where the vitalize coaches role ends and where the doctor’s role begins. By doing Vitalize 360, we are making sure that residents reach their maximum potential of wellness and promote them having conversations about what matters most to them with their doctor and their health care proxy. I took part in streamlining the program with the medical staff to make the delivery of care more efficient. Before we streamlined the program, the medical staff did not necessarily receive all of the information to align the treatment with the patient’s goals. We overall have increased organization of the care team. Our program has a great impact that structures goals for the resident.
Something I know now that I wish I knew when I started was the background of the clientele I would be serving. I also wish I had known the amount of flexibility and extra time in my schedule. The advice I would give to someone else who wants to pursue an internship or career in my organization is that the staff are wonderful and have a good communication system with one another. It is important when working with this population to take each person where they are at, have patience and flexibility, and always treat with respect. It is important to not be afraid to branch out within the company and see what’s going on, because I found that a lot of the positions are very interconnected.