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Thriving in Place - UMFK Nursing Students Gain Real World Experience

July 18, 2016

Out of all fifty states in America, Maine is the state with the oldest population. Maine also has one of the highest rates of disability in the nation (according to a 2013 press release by the Maine Health Access Foundation). To tackle those issues, and to help people live independently, the Maine Health Access Foundation began awarding “Thriving in Place” grants in 2013. As much as $320,000 worth of the “Thriving in Place” grants will be used by eight organizations to help people stay happy and healthy at home, rather than having to be placed in a hospital or other kind of health institution (according to the same press release).

Beginning in 2013, the planning grants have been awarded in five, one year installments of up to $40,000 each (according to a Maine Health Access Foundation request for proposal). Organizations from York to Aroostook County, Maine have received funding for the “Thriving in Place” grants.

Dr. Tanya Sleeper, associate professor of Adult Health Nursing, got the University of Maine at Fort Kent involved in the “Thriving in Place” program as a result of her continued involvement with the home health care center. “Carrying out this program has been a group effort,” said Dr. Sleeper. “It's brought together health care organizations from across the county to join forces and meet the needs of an aging population.”

Through the work of local partners in Aroostook County, such as: UMFK, Northern Maine Medical Center, Aroostook County Action Program, and Aroostook Area Agency on Aging, the “Thriving in Place” grants have provided numerous kinds of help for people who need it. Services provided by the grants include: medical transportation, home care, home-based supports, respite and adult day services, enhanced screening, care plan development, and care transitions support. The program has also been an asset for county care organizations, as it has allowed them to create collaborative partnerships and develop both new and existing health resources.

“However, the program hasn't just benefited caregivers and people who received care through the funding, UMFK nursing students have gained real world experience that they probably wouldn't have gotten otherwise because of this program,” added Dr. Sleeper. “To help aging adults to 'Thrive in Place,' UMFK nursing students conduct in home visits to account for additional needs and services. The overall goal is help people stay healthy in their own homes.”

To learn more about the Maine Health Access Foundation, you can visit their website: http://www.mehaf.org/

For more information on the “Thriving in Place” grant, contact Dr. Sleeper at tanya.sleeper@maine.edu