Kristin Elsbernd sought an organization where she could use her training in occupational therapy (OT) to improve the lives of seniors. As a doctoral candidate at the University of Mary, in Bismarck, North Dakota, Elsbernd was excited to learn that English Rose, a leader in dementia care based in her home state, was willing to be the sponsoring organization for her capstone project — a final graduation requirement in which students combine classroom learning with an in-depth, on-site learning experience. The opportunity to work in partnership with English Rose allowed Elsbernd to advance in her profession, while also positively impacting the daily activities of our residents.
Elsbernd chose to work with English Rose in part because of its size and collaborative culture, which meant she would have direct access to senior management, caregivers, and the residents.
“I started by conducting a needs assessment which involved interviewing the leadership team and surveying the caregivers,” said Elsbernd.
She then worked closely with her on-site mentor, Katie Rinehimer, Director-Quality of Life, to determine that her project’s focus would be two-fold: to use her OT training to provide opportunities for meaningful engagement for residents based on their daily need and to further educate caregivers of individuals with dementia at English Rose.
“Kristin brought a fresh lens to our day-to-day work which provided us with new insights that we incorporated into our practice.” said Rinehimer. With Elsbernd’s help, English Rose streamline its daily activities to make them more meaningful for each specific resident on a given day. She also developed educational materials that help caregivers apply OT interventions in several areas of resident care, including adaptive equipment for feeding, sensory integration, dressing techniques, body mechanics with transfers, and fall prevention.
“My experience taught me skills and gave me an opportunity to work directly with residents to build rapport, and that will help me in the future as an occupational therapist to build relationships with my patients,” said Elsbernd.
Of her time at English Rose, Eslbernd stated, “It would be great if every organization was as dedicated as English Rose. Everyone is checking in with the staff to make sure they are supported, and this accountability really benefits both the staff and residents.”