To assist Kearny High School students in their vocational program, called “Medical Assisting Students,” Alaris Health at Kearny created an innovative ‘Sensitivity Training’ workshop held at the high school where students could learn what it feel likes to be elderly.
The Alaris Health at Kearny team held exercises where students learned about visual impairment by wearing blacked out goggles, as well as the loss of manual dexterity by wearing oven mitts while doing small motor tasks. Another exercise with a blindfold and a variety scents showed the students how some blind individuals compensate for their loss of vision with a keener sense of smell.
“The comments we received from the students were very positive. The exercise really enlightened them and helped them to get a better understanding of our senior population and those recovering from injury,” Walter Sokolowski, Recreation Therapist for Alaris Health at Kearny.
In addition to the program at Alaris Health at Kearny, Kearny High Students also come weekly to Alaris Health at Belgrove and participate all year long in the “Medical Assisting Students” program. Students help with both recreation and care activities for the residents. Three shifts of students come each Tuesday and Thursday to help the staff with everything from making beds, feeding residents, transporting them to activities, and assisting with both the High Functioning and Low Functioning program.
“These students are all interested in the healthcare field and through the program they gain a better understanding of the field and become more compassionate human beings in the process. Their interaction with patients and residents provides an unbelievable opportunity for learning and makes them well rounded and better able to identify with those with illness and disease,” says Peggy Biondo, teacher and program advisor for Kearny High School.
Several of the students have later been hired by Alaris Member Health Centers and other similar facilities, says Ms. Biondo. In addition, Alaris Member Health Centers greatly benefit from the youthful energy and enthusiasm of the high school students.
“It is such a benefit for the residents and staff. Every staff member appreciates them. We consistently tell them how valuable they are to our efforts. Having the students here means more residents can be involved in activities,” says Mr. Sokolowski.
For more information on the program, please call Alaris Health at Kearny at (201) 955-7067 or call Alaris Health at Belgrove at (973) 844-4800.