10, 2002, Gazette)
Nursing students Amanda Ross (L) and Sara MacIntosh (R) demonstrate
the Health for Me Web site to instructor Dr. Violeta Ribeiro.
In a small room at the Masonic Park Nursing Home community centre
in St. Johns, a computer with Internet service is now at the
service of seniors. The brainchild of final-year nursing students
Amanda Ross and Sara MacIntosh, the computer offers seniors access
to their own e-mail accounts as well as a Web page they developed,
Health for Me.
We wanted to leave something for people to access health information
for themselves, explained Ms. Ross. We wanted to empower
these people to look after themselves.
Ms. MacIntosh said that they developed the Health for Me site to provide
an easy navigation tool to trustworthy information on common health
problems such as diabetes.
So far, the e-mail accounts have proved particularly popular, allowing
seniors the opportunity to stay in touch with relatives living away.
The two nursing students set up the computer and the Web site as part
of their course work in community health. But they did far more than
this. The first task set by the St. Johns Nursing Home and the
Masonic Park Complex was for the students to develop a questionnaire
for over 200 healthy seniors who reside in Masonic Park apartments
and cottages. Developing and distributing the questionnaire
which included obtaining approval from the universitys Human
Investigation Committee was a large job. The response rate
was 36 per cent, which pleases the students; the analysis of results
will be done at the School of Nursings Research Unit by the
faculty member who supervised their work.
Masonic Park Complex is pleased with the work done by the students,
particularly the survey. We wanted to assess the needs of our
tenants in cottages and by partnering with the School of Nursing were
getting the information we need, explained Sandra Strickland,
site coordinator. We already know that our seniors need such
services as ongoing well clinics, nutritional counseling and visits.
Its been a learning experience for all of us.
Ms. Strickland said the two nursing students went far beyond her expectations.
They started with a meet-and-greet social featuring a
tasty spread of food they arranged to have donated from local businesses.
That proved popular with the seniors; the students followed up with
a number of workshops on wellness topics and blood pressure checks.
We had the opportunity to develop our own interventions and
we thought carefully about what the topics would do, said Ms.
Instructor Dr. Violeta Ribeiro is very pleased with the extra effort
the two students put into their course. Its a good example
of what students can do when they put their minds to it. We have many
other students at the MUN School of Nursing, the Centre for Nursing
Studies, and Western Memorial School of Nursing who do very good work
in this course. It teaches students to work in pairs to identify health
promotion needs, or interests, of various population groups and then
engage in health promotion activities to address them. Other
MUN faculty members who currently teach this course, Judith Blakeley
and Lorna Bennett, share this view.
After classes ended, Ms. Ross and Ms. MacIntosh were still tidying
up the tail end of their project. Their hope now is that the seniors
interested in the computer will form a computer club and use the on-loan
machine enough to convince the board at Masonic Park that it should
be a permanent benefit.