The Healthy Ager Project provides interprofessional learning experiences for health profession students to address competencies in the care of older adults. Each Healthy Ager is paired with a team of students from physical therapy, nursing, nutrition, social work, clinical lab science and communication disorders. The purpose of this study is to determine if an interprofessional / multidsiciplinary, service-learning model promotes student achievement of core competencies in the care of older adults.
Arkansas State University partners with the Center on Aging-Northeast each year to recruit older adults for the Healthy Ager Project. Thirty-two older adults volunteered to participate in the Healthy Ager Project in 2016. The core team includes the Healthy Ager and students from physical therapy, nursing and nutrition. The core team provides individualized treatment plans for the Healthy Ager. Students in social work, clinical lab science, and communication disorders provided education, laboratory testing and hearing screens, respectively. At the completion of the program, the core team self-assessed the care provided to the Healthy Ager using the American Geriatrics Society Multidisciplinary Competencies in the Care of Older Adults questionnaire. Descriptive stastistics were used to analyze data collected from the core student team regarding their perceptions of whether or not the Healthy Ager project met the multidisciplinary competencies in the care of older adults. A Likert scale (with 1 low through 5 high) was used to rate student perceptions based on the six domains within the competencies.
The results indicate that the core team perceived that they met (score of 3) or exceeded (score 4, 5) the multidisciplinary competencies in the care of older adults in all six domains. Mean scores for domain #1 (Health Promotion and Safety) = 4.81, domain #2 (Evaluation and Assessment) = 4.67, domain #3 (Care Planning and Coordination Across the Care Spectrum) = 4.7, domain #4 (Interdisciplinary and Team Care) = 4.76., domain #5 (Caregiver Support) = 4.0 and domain #6 (Healthcare Systems and Benefits) = 4.22. The domains with lower ratings included caregiver support and healthcare system and benefits.
Conclusions/Relevance to the conference theme: The Pursuit of Excellence in Physical Therapy Education
The Healthy Ager project facilitates student learning by providing a service-learning, interprofessional / multidisciplinary environment while providing care for the older adult. The Healthy Ager Project continues to be mutually beneficial to the community of older adults that participate in the program and the students involved in the project.
1. American Geriatrics Society. (2016). Multidisciplinary competencies in the care of older adults at the completion of the entry-level health professional degree. Retrieved from http://www.americangeriatrics.org/about_us/partnership_for_health_in_aging/multidisciplinary_competencies/multidisciplinary_competencies778926/