Speech Pathology Students Improve the Lives of the Aged

Monday, 9 December 2013

A new initiative in Speech Pathology is creating Work Integrated Learning opportunities while enhancing the lives of residents of a local aged care facility.

Under the direction of Dr Sally Hewat, Head of the Speech Pathology Program, a student unit was established at Maroba aged care facility in Waratah in January 2012.

Since then, University of Newcastle students have delivered supervised Speech Pathology services as part of their clinical placements.

Dr Hewat said the relationship with Maroba benefits both the residents and students.

"This program has provided not only and amazing work integrated learning opportunity for our students, but has been a great addition to the lives and experiences of residents and staff at the facility," Dr Hewat said.

"The program has flourished with the support of our program Director of Clinical Education, Mrs. Joanne Walters and the Clinical Educator, Ms. Kristen Earl."

"We've seen some excellent outcomes for the Maroba residents. By improving their communication access we are helping to improve their quality of life," Dr Hewat said.

Here's what some of the Maroba residents said about the program:

"Having the university students here is wonderful.  I like to sticky beak into their lives and contribute to their learning. They make us feel involved and teach us new things.  The students help me to work on my memory and it gives me a new outlook on life", Arnold, a resident at Maroba, said.

"I love the students. I wouldn't miss Chatterbox for anything (except if I was sick)" said Janet.  (Chatterbox is a weekly communication group for residents to enhance communication access and opportunities for conversation).

"It's so pleasant to have the students around. I have Alzheimer's and the activities they do with me help to jog my memory. It helps me to think and it helped me settle in here at Maroba. Its great company, social and productive," Val, another resident said.

The program has also been recognised in a number of awards, and was named finalist in the 2013 NSW Health Positive Living in Aged Care Awards and finalist in the 2013 Hunter Aged Care Awards.

"Ms. Kristen Earl was also presented with the Maroba Medal for staff excellence earlier this year and the program has also participated in a University of Newcastle Pilot Research project 'Using technology to enhance clinical supervision: The Electronically-Facilitated Feedback Initiative (EFFI)'," Dr Hewat said.

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