After months of planning for the caregiver’s conference, the nursing students in Dr. Aneesha Jean’s Community and Public Health Class were excited to host the event. Samantha Guerra hoped that those attending left knowing more about how to “integrate self-care and one more thing than what they knew when they walked in.”
The “In-Person Conference for Caregivers,” was held March 31 on campus; the forum focused on helping those caring for people with dementia and intellectual and developmental disabilities. It was a partnership of Caldwell University, HomeCare Options and Alzheimer’s New Jersey.
Jean, assistant professor of nursing, aimed for her students to learn about collaborating with non-profits and other outside groups and to see how their work could have a positive effect in the community.
The students handled duties such as pre-event publicity, check-in and registration, navigation, distributing materials and coordinating the prayer and blessing which was led by Sister Joanne Beirne, O.P., a retired nurse.
To Jean the program was a success and a wonderful opportunity for the students to learn about group dynamics, resources management, communication, and how to “look upstream for solutions to health problems and prevent negative outcomes experienced by populations at risk.”
She was proud of the work her students put into the project. “The planning and implementation was impeccable. I found one of the best parts of the day to be the solemn moment the students, caregiving participants and Sister Beirne shared during the blessing. Overall the program incorporated the mind, body and spiritual components of the human experience.”
Student Cian Richardson said it took a lot of work on the part of everyone and she appreciated working with a great team – “because team really matters when orchestrating a great event. Now I know what it means to run an event.”
Topics for the conference included: an overview of Alzheimer’s disease in the intellectual and developmental disability population, designing a comprehensive future plan and a review of community resources.
Susan Oriwa, Sylvia Kerslake and Doreen Thomas, employees of Spectrum for Living in New Jersey which serves adults with developmental disabilities, appreciated obtaining more information at the conference on how to better support clients and residents with information on topics such as guardianship and support groups.
The students also had the chance to network with professionals and attendees. The resources were “really great for future nurses,” said student Ann Ceide. Student Donna Lee Graham agreed that it was a truly worthwhile experience. “We will incorporate what we learned into our practice as future nurses.”