Fountain West, Heritage Court and Drake University partnership forms friendships

This February, IHCA Member Fountain West Health Center and Heritage Court in West Des Moines welcomed their newest round of students from Drake University’s College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.

Fountain West and Heritage Court have had a relationship with Drake for nearly 20 years. In 1999, The College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Drake partnered with facilities in the Des Moines metro area to educate students while giving back to the community.

“Pharmacy students in the first year of the professional program must enroll in an introductory pharmacy practice experience,” said Anisa Fornoff, who holds a doctorate in pharmacy and serves as an associate professor of pharmacy practice at Drake University. “Fountain West has always been a strong partner in this collaboration.”

For ten weeks each semester, six to ten students spend two hours per week at the facility. The program is directed at developing professionalism, empathy, care and communication through building a personal relationship with an elderly individual.

“We really enjoy watching the students with the residents,” said Michelle Silvey, activity coordinator at Fountain West. “Some students who may not have much experience with the geriatric population start to relax and enjoy the time they spend with the residents.”

Students assist with activities and programs including Scrabble, exercise, crafts and more. Additionally, students spend one-on-one time with residents who do not attend facility activities regularly. One-on-one interactions consist of reading, playing cards, painting nails and sharing stories.

“Watching a budding friendship between a resident and a student is priceless. The residents have lived full lives, traveled many places and have many stories to share,” said Silvey. “We all should sit and converse with our senior population more.”

Although geriatric service learning is only a component of Drake’s curriculum, some experiences continue long after the semester is over.

“We receive cards from students who have come and gone. A student from four years ago still visits her senior companion here,” said Silvey. “Residents and students have made lasting friendships.”

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