The College of Saint Rose of Albany, NY has been sending social workers to the Carmelite Sisters’ Motherhouse for over a decade to enhance their education on the care for the elderly. Each year, AIG’s director and Saint Rose faculty collaborate with the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm to lead a two-day workshop to teach the students about end-of-life issues, dementia and the admission process in long-term care. As millennials will soon become the dominant generation in America’s workforce, it is important to help them understand and carry on the mission of compassionate, person-centered care held by the Carmelites.
This year the tradition continued with over 20 students in attendance. The program included Sr. Annelle Fitzpatrick, AIG faculty and professor at St. John’s University with her presentation, “Death and Dying in Multi-Cultural America.” Alfred Norwood, AIG faculty, led sessions on Dementia and “Behavioral Challenges for Social Workers,” and Sr. Patricia Brancaccio discussed the “Person-centered Admissions Process.” Sr. Mary Donovan, Vocations Director for the Carmelite Sisters, presented “Therapeutic Mindfulness.” Sr. Peter Lillian Di Maria, Director of the Avila Institute, spoke about “The Spirituality of Dying” and the Mission of the Sisters.
Sr. Mary Donovan said, “The program helped increase the students’ empathy, and they were very interested and asked a lot of questions. Some of them said that it helped them understand their grandparents better.”
Many of the students stayed overnight at the Motherhouse and enjoyed an evening of socializing with the Sisters. The students will continue the program with a six-hour practicum at the Teresian House, one of the homes served by the Carmelite Sisters. While there, the social work students will accompany the Sisters on visits to residents and their families to put into practice what they learned.
We believe that education is key to attracting and retaining quality care staff. Working with colleges is both beneficial for the students and the facility offering training. Since the program was begun, the Teresian House, where the students have their hands-on practicum, has hired many of the social workers who have graduated from the College of Saint Rose. Currently they employ seven social workers. Some social workers have grown within the organization into Director roles.
AIG and the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm are committed to helping America’s future healthcare workers through programs like these to understand and empathize with the issues facing the elderly they will care for.