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Community health nursing

Community health nursing

Nursing students go above and beyond for Delawareans with chronic illness

University of Delaware senior nursing students Hayley Meadows and Sarah Varnes built some special relationships during a recent clinical rotation.

As part of community clinical experience with Wayne Voelmeck, assistant professor of nursing, the pair was placed with Lori’s Hands, a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the lives of people with chronic disease.

Meadows and Varnes independently managed a caseload of 12 clients, providing in-home support to families. But the young nurses didn’t stop there.

The pair went above and beyond assistance with day-to-day tasks. They created and piloted a social and resource needs assessment tool with clients, capturing clients’ social and physical needs in order to navigate them to proper resources. The new tool identified untapped resources to improve each person’s life; the students connected clients with nutritional education, social support, and mental health support based on their needs.

Meadows and Varnes also identified and reported a case of possible elder abuse.

“Hayley and Sarah were compassionate toward our clients and demonstrated empathy for people from a variety of backgrounds,” said Lori’s Hands founder Sarah LaFave. “I was impressed by their critical thinking skills; they were able to determine when to bring client concerns to my attention and when an issue was something they could handle on their own.”

LaFave launched Lori’s Hands while she was a College of Health Sciences undergraduate. Her vision was for those with chronic illnesses to achieve high quality of life while aging in place in their communities.

But the benefit doesn’t stop with the clients; Lori’s Hands transforms students’ understanding of community health and allows them to build meaningful relationships. Each week, the organization and its army of Blue Hen volunteers provide support to 35 families in the greater Newark area.

The community clinical rotation for UD nursing students is designed to expose future RNs to the role of nurses outside of clinical settings. Community clinical students are placed in senior centers, prisons, and a variety of other settings to help students develop their understanding of community health challenges and resources.

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