Posted on: November 24, 2014
Northside Hospital recently played a key role in helping a local student earn the Girl Scouts’ highest honor, the Gold Award. Working with the nursing staff at Northside, Sarah Schurr, a member of Girl Scout troop #1261 in Norcross and a senior at Greater Atlanta Christian School, developed Talk To Me, a project to help caregivers increase communication and interaction with elderly patients suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s or social detachment.
The Girl Scout Gold Award represents the highest achievement in Girl Scouting. According to the Girl Scouts, the prestigious award challenges girls to change the world, or at least their corner of it through a “Take Action” project. The project must address a national and/or global issue and produce impact that is measurable and sustainable.
Sarah’s project came about in 2013, while she participated in the Northside Hospital Auxiliary’s summer “Volunteen” program, which offers high-school students the opportunity to gain invaluable experience working in the medical field. Sarah was one of the first volunteens paired with the hospital’s Patient Access Liaisons (PALs), a special partnership between the Auxiliary and the NICHE (Nurses Improving Care for Healthsystem Elders) team.
NICHE is the only national designation indicating a hospital's commitment to elder care excellence. Northside received NICHE designation in December 2012 and works with a team of doctors, pharmacists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapists, dietitians , case managers and quality improvement specialists on strategies to improve quality of care for older adults.Sarah’s training taught her about the sensory changes that affect older adults, how they struggle to come to terms with their newfound physical limitations, and how these limitations and changes can lead to social detachment or isolation. Sarah learned techniques to increase their communication and interaction with caregivers. At home, Sarah’s grandmother also was beginning to show signs of dementia.
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