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Westminster Communities of Florida Partners with FSU College of Medicine to Educate Seniors About Heart Health

September 28, 2018

ORLANDO — Saturday is World Heart Day, and Westminster Communities of Florida is marking the date. We support the health and wellbeing of seniors, and one way is to help future physicians understand the needs of their older patients. In partnership with the Florida State University College of Medicine, throughout 2018, we are hosting a series of “Take Care of Your Heart Health” seminars for residents, presented by medical students.

In October, we will be hosting these seminars at our active living communities in Bradenton and Orlando, and at our affordable senior housing communities in Daytona Beach, Pensacola and Orlando. These classes are led by teams of medical students in their third and fourth years, who present useful knowledge on seniors’ wellbeing. Over 160 medical students have participated, giving presentations to hundreds of Westminster residents. The current topic is the third in a series of health-related presentations, including brain health, fall prevention and advance care planning.

Sandra Knoble, Director of Quality Initiatives for Westminster Communities of Florida, facilitates the project, part of a research grant with FSU. "In 2015, FSU met with Westminster residents to identify key areas of interest. The series was developed and delivered based on that input, leading to the success of the program. We are proud to be partners with FSU and Westminster residents and staff in offering these educational programs," says Knoble.

Westminster residents have responded enthusiastically to the seminars. “Every resident who attended commented that the students were professional, confident and patient with the residents,” said Karen Aytes-Rochester, administrator at Westminster Canterbury in Daytona Beach. “The white coats were such a hit—and our residents wouldn’t let them leave!”

This program is part of the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Project (GWEP), focusing on educating seniors on better health and better communication with their physicians. The student facilitators are mentored by local physicians and adjunct faculty in preparation for post-graduate work experience. The FSU College of Medicine prepares the content for these programs and provides presentation scripts to the medical students. The students are equipped with an action plan to lead their teaching, as well as handouts of resources that would be relevant for seniors. Afterward, the seniors are encouraged to ask questions and develop personal action plans to increase healthy behaviors.

"The classes are limited to 20 older adults," says Knoble. "This class size fosters better interpersonal reaction between the participants and the medical students giving the presentations."

Since 2016, the program has encouraged more than 1200 seniors to learn more about their personal health and wellbeing. To learn more about the program and upcoming presentation dates, contact Jennifer Gilmour at (941) 746-9425.

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