Home Local News UNCP students, faculty to introduce wellness program in local nursing homes

UNCP students, faculty to introduce wellness program in local nursing homes

Turner Goins, professor of gerontological social work at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. Photo by WCU

UNC Pembroke is partnering with Western Carolina University to introduce an evidence-based senior wellness program at local nursing homes to increase residents’ exercise and social interaction.

UNCP nursing and kinesiology students will be trained to lead the exercises with the popular game Bingocize, thanks to a $1.1 million Civil Money Penalty Grant awarded to Western Carolina.

“This is a huge opportunity for our students to see an evidence-based quality improvement project actually applied in a clinical setting,” said Dr. Deborah Hummer, associate professor of nursing and a board-certified gerontological clinical nurse specialist. “This is an amazing opportunity to serve the nursing home residents of our community to impact their functional well-being.”

Over the next three years, the program will be available in 45 North Carolina nursing homes and reach more than 2,000 residents. The project will be led by Turner Goins, professor of gerontological social work at WCU.

Bingocize combines exercise, health education and the game of bingo. Studies have shown significant improvements in lower and upper body strength, cognitive ability and fall prevention in older adults.

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“I’m excited about the opportunity for our students to engage in community service,” said Dr. Teri Schlosser, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and health promotion program coordinator.

“It’s one thing for us to stand up and discuss what a health promotion program would look like, but for them to be immersed in an evidence-based program, I think those experiential learning opportunities are valuable.”

Hummer and Schlosser will spend the next several months recruiting nursing homes to participate and integrate the program into the course curriculum.

Functional decline is a hot-button issue in nursing homes, further underscoring the university’s impact on the community’s health.

“This is another example of engaging students in the community and incorporating meaningful programs for their education,” Hummer added.

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