“I value the priceless knowledge and perspectives that the Senior Citizen Partnership Program has afforded me on matters highly important to future doctors.”
“I cherish every moment of conversation with my senior citizen partner.”
“I feel I’ve become an adopted grandson!”
These are just some of the words spoken by students at our recent morning tea, celebrating our Senior Citizen Partnership Program.
As you may have heard on the grapevine, we recently learned that SwanCare was announced the national winner of the 2019 Aged & Community Services Australia (ACSA) Aged Care Awards in the category of Innovation in Service or Design. This award recognises the Senior Citizen Partnership Program; an initiative that has been run by SwanCare in partnership with Curtin University Medical School since 2017. Its aim is to provide future doctors opportunities connect with senior citizens and help develop communication skills, as well as a greater understanding of the issues facing this age group.
As part of the program, students spend time with residents to gain an appreciation for the lifestyle of an older person and for health issues experienced by older members of our community. Throughout the five-year program, students will visit their partner resident once every three months.
SwanCare’s Manager of Quality and Compliance, Geraldine Garrett, coordinates and manages the Senior Citizen Partnership Program with a small, dedicated team of colleagues - and clearly, they are doing an incredible job.
“As soon as I heard about the program I wanted to get involved - it represented an opportunity to be truly innovative. Running the programs have been a massive undertaking - and I love it. Because the program is now award-winning, the village residents are so enthusiastic - they are telling all their friends and everyone is getting on board. In a couple of years, we’ll have our first graduates. Senior citizens are already thinking about what they’ll wear for the occasion!” says Geraldine.
Senior Citizen Peter Garrett reflected on the program; “I really enjoyed meeting up with the students and I’m very proud to be part of the ongoing medical studies program. In my opinion, being a great doctor is not only having the knowledge and competency to do their job well, but the ability to establish a relationship with patients. To say that I was pleasantly surprised by the program is an understatement. I have every confidence the students will make brilliant doctors because, first and foremost, they are exceptional people.”
An afternoon of celebration
Each year, we host a ‘Thank you Afternoon tea’ for all the students and residents in the program. “With the news that we had won the ACSA made this year even more special. It was so exciting - everyone was cheering. I feel so encouraged that these young people are going to become doctors. The Senior Citizen Partnership program is helping to break down stigmas against working in aged care. We have doctors who truly want to work with older people. It gives me hope for the future,” says Geraldine.