About the SeniorAdvisor.com 2014 In-Home Innovation Scholarship: We started the scholarship program to bring awareness of the unique benefits and challenges of in-home caregiving for seniors to younger generations. The questions posed by the scholarship encouraged our nation’s future caregivers to present solutions for improving home care in the United States. College-aged students were required to answer one of the three essay topics below and provide a short bio as part of their scholarship application. Read the winning essays here.
How can your major of study improve the lives of seniors receiving in-home care services?
Essay response by Kirsten Storey, University of Maryland – Baltimore
I am currently attending the University of Maryland, Baltimore working towards a Bachelors of Science in nursing. While many nurses go on to specialize in geriatric care, it can often be an overlooked specialty for newly graduating nurses. Furthermore, many newly graduating nurses may no forgo the idea of in-home care services and for the allure of more institutional settings such as hospitals or nursing home facilities. I believe the best approach to improving the lives of our senior citizens may be through the increased provisions for high quality in-home care services. Additionally, we must increase awareness about these programs. In an effort to increase the number of nurses working in in-home care services, first semester nursing students should be required to complete a summer placement in a programs that supports in home care, offer incentives (such as scholarships) for those who agree to work in these programs for a period of time upon graduation, and place a greater emphasis on geriatric care.
In many states, including Maryland, second semester nursing students are eligible for the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate. CNAs are qualified to provide a variety of direct care services. For those students looking for summer employment, in home care options can be a valid option alongside employment in local hospitals or nursing. This would also provide invaluable experience. If universities were to include these agencies in employment suggestions, the chances of great students applying will increase. Additionally, these partnerships between universities and in home care programs would result in more nurses seeking employment in these programs because most often nurses seek employment in the program they are most familiar with as a result of their placements. These partnerships would result in increased quality care for senior citizens.
Another way to increase the number of quality nurses working in in-home services could be to offer scholarship programs for nurses who plan to work in these services for a number of years. Many hospitals in urban areas will offer to pay a student thousands of dollars each semester if the student agrees to sign a contract stating upon graduation, they will work for the hospital for a determined number of years. Many students want to become nurses, but are struggling to pay for school. These scholarship programs often have many applicants and produce a great number of excellent employees for an agency. Many students will continue to work for the agency after their determined number of years is up! If a company is good to its employees, it will only continue to have great employees providing great services. I think the same principle could apply here. If the university were to offer scholarships to students, more would be interested in working in in-home services, thus increasing the quality of the program.
A greater emphasis on geriatric care is imperative. This would increase the number of nursing students interested pursuing this type of setting. A well-rounded nursing program should included all settings equally. Many make career decisions based upon their clinical experiences and will continue to work in that field for years to come. If every nursing school made it a requirement for nursing majors to do a clinical rotation in geriatric medicine, more students pursue this field of medicine. Working in a clinical setting for a day or two or never having had the experience is counterintuitive to the notion of developing nurses who are well rounded and fully adaptable to any environment.
The key to increasing the quality and longevity of seniors is to improve and expand in-home care services for these most vulnerable citizens. Once of the greatest component to healing is the presence of knowledgeable and trusting medical personnel. Nurses are the pivotal factor in that equation in all other clinical settings—so it should that be the case in in home care settings. The presence of a qualified nurse would in all likelihood result in a decrease in maltreatment of those who cannot care for themselves as well as provide the needed support for their family members.
Kirsten is currently pursuing a bachelor of science (BS) degree in nursing at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.