Kelsey Porter is a full-time staff at Arthur’s Senior Care–ACR’s sister company. For her internship project, Kelsey Porter created a dementia care best-practices guide for staff. It took some time to find an accessible and engaging format, but in the end she created a valuable resource that staff appreciated and utilized.
Major: Biology with Public Health concentration
Career path: Physician Assistant
“Becoming a PA provides a wonderful opportunity to serve as a high-level healthcare provider while also pursuing work-life balance.
I care deeply about contributing to my community in tangible, meaningful ways—and as a PA, I could work in multiple specialties over the course of my career in order to help meet the needs of my community.
Healthcare professionals often have a deep and lasting impact on the people and places that they serve, and I would be honored to contribute to my local community in such a purposeful way.
Finding her focus
To identify a focus for my internship, I started by searching for a growth area that could improve quality of life for my residents. I asked questions like, “What are some difficult parts of the job at ACR?” and “What challenges are residents facing?” During this time, I identified that one of our residents seemed to be pretty uncomfortable on a daily basis due to behavioral challenges and falls. Her discomfort was also challenging for staff, because we were not always sure how to support her during tough moments. These observations led to my decision to develop a staff resource to improve the quality of care we provide for individuals with Parkinson’s disease dementia.
I focused my project on four areas — communication, behaviors, movement and activities. I then researched best practices in dementia care to identify how we could better support our residents in each of the four areas. After my research was complete, I compiled the information I had gathered into a two-page best-practices guide for staff.
My co-workers were very supportive of my project, and open to using the resource I had created. However, shifts are very busy, and after a few weeks it became clear that this resource wasn’t able to be accessed in the way I had originally intended. I could have given up at this point and decided that my staff guide was unsuccessful. But instead, I decided to revisit my project design and see how I could improve it.
I knew the lack of engagement wasn’t a reflection of how my coworkers felt about my investment in my project — they clearly all supported me, and hoped that my internship would be successful. However, with busy shifts and limited time and energy, I had to make the information I had gathered clear, direct, and condensed.
In order to make the staff resource more engaging and accessible, I changed the format from a detailed best-practices guide into a series of bite-sized “Dementia tips of the day.” The updated format was more user-friendly, as I had hoped; staff found most of the tips to be quite helpful. They especially appreciated behavior-focused tips, likely because managing behaviors is one of the most emotionally challenging parts of dementia care.
I was happy with how I responded to the challenge presented by the first stage of my internship. I think that this experience was a good reminder that people have limited time and energy, especially in healthcare, and that asking others to invest in an extra project or task is not always feasible. It was my responsibility to make my project more accessible and less time-consuming for staff. And in doing so, I increased their ability to participate.
Throughout my internship, I appreciated the chance to explore how we can better support our residents. Dementia care is challenging, and I think it is important to continuously seek to improve our quality of care. Providing additional resources and training for staff is a great way to increase the tools that we have available when we are working with residents daily.
Advice for future interns
Try to focus on a problem or growth area that will be impactful for your residents. And make sure that you are excited enough about your topic that you’ll be able to work on it for a number of months. Be patient with the process; it can be messy, and you might have to redo things and change your plans along the way. Recognize that you can shape your internship to fit with your schedule and other commitments, too. The internship team is very supportive and flexible, and they will help you find a schedule and timeline that work best for you.”
Considering doing an ACR Internship? Check out other featured internship spotlights here. To get started and join Kelsey in making a difference for ACR and Arthur’s Senior Care residents, email firstname.lastname@example.org.