Porter-Starke Services’ newest program will aid clients of Meals on Wheels of Northwest Indiana as well as VNA Meals on Wheels by providing them with check-ins and social contact. Facilitating this initiative are 18 Valparaiso University nursing students participating as part of their public health nursing course. With many Meals on Wheels clients facing increased isolation since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the trained students will help homebound seniors better assess their mental wellbeing and provide them with genuine contact through phone calls and home visits.
“We are excited to have so many students participating in the Healthy IDEAS program and making a positive impact for Northwest Indiana seniors,” said Diana Iltzsche, Older Adult Prevention Coordinator at Porter-Starke.
The students have been trained by Porter-Starke employees as part of the Healthy IDEAS (Identifying Depression & Empowering Activities for Seniors) program which is an evidence-based program that integrates depression awareness and self-care into existing case management services provided to older adults.
“VNA Meals on Wheels is proud to offer our clients the opportunity to take part in Healthy IDEAS. This program provides a meaningful connection for our clients,” said Julie Kissinger, Director of VNA Life Services. “Now more than ever, it is time to ensure our senior neighbors in Porter County are aware of additional resources. Last year’s Healthy IDEAS results prove this program empowers seniors with activities and interactions. The benefits are limitless.”
Students will encourage senior citizens to begin or continue involvement in activities which improve mood and overall health. Training will also allow them to provide clients with the knowledge to set goals and be better aware of their mental wellbeing.
“The training emphasizes this is a client driven process with nursing support rather than a nursing procedure or medication. Our students will gain positive feedback and satisfaction from knowing they can make a positive impact from screening, educating and supporting individuals in their health journeys in their own homes,” said Cheryl Slack, professor at Valparaiso University and supervisor for the course.
Students will be working together over the next six weeks to make connections with individuals as they assess their needs. They will be equipped with screenings for depression, educational materials for clients, and referral resources as indicated by screening materials.
Funding provided by the State of Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) to provide needed resources for Hoosiers aged 50 and older. The programs funded by this grant are designed to help celebrate healthy aging, make healthy lifestyle choices, and avoid substance misuse.