CENTENNIAL HIGHLIGHT – UW SCHOOL OF NURSING PARTNERSHIP WITH ERA LIVING AND ALMO FAMILY
1. How did you first get connected with the School of Nursing, and when was the timing. We have record dating back to 1993 – over 25 years!
Yes, in fact it all began in 1990 when we reached out to meet with Dr. Sue Hegyvary, the Dean of the School of Nursing at the time. She had published an article about the aging population and the shortage of nurses trained specifically in gerontology. This caught our attention as we were in the midst of developing our “flagship” retirement community, Ida Culver House Broadview. Our vision was to build the community and our organization on a foundation of innovation and healthy aging.
We approached Dr. Hegyvary to discuss whether the School would be interested in establishing a partnership where faculty and students would be able to apply their education and research of older adults into practice at our upcoming, state-of-the-art retirement community and healthcare center. This was very much in alignment with the School’s goals. With Dr. Hegyvary’s leadership, we created a model partnership that has been win-win since inception. We have since expanded the partnership across our entire organization, including eight retirement communities in the greater Seattle area.
2. What is one of the greatest accomplishments of the partnership between UW School of Nursing and Era Living? (The school is quite proud of the work you did in helping to change the WA legislation on aging in place.)
Together, we have achieved many significant accomplishments that have impacted the health and wellbeing of older adults. We’ve had an influential role in working with Washington State on long-term care policies, including flexible assisted living licensing and nurse delegation. This created greater flexibility in care delivery, expanding the scope of assisted living so that people could age in place and receive care services in the privacy and comfort of their home, rather than having to move to a more clinical setting. Similarly, our academic / private collaboration has resulted in many research studies, NIH grants, and wellness programs at our communities, all of which improve care delivery and enhance the lives of older adults, which is our very mission.
3. Why Nursing? Your involvement with the University spans more than just our school, and your commitment to both Pharmacy and Arts & Sciences are also important.
We are honored to have this long-standing partnership with the School of Nursing and its outstanding leadership and faculty. The mutually beneficial collaboration brings the academic research and latest practices to the forefront of our daily operations. It also enriches the education and training of nurses, and it benefits the broader older adult population.
In collaboration with the School, we developed wellness and active aging programs at our communities. As an example, with the leadership and expertise of Dr. Basia Belza, we rolled out the Enhance®Fitness program at our communities; this is an evidence-based fitness program that focuses on muscle strength, balance, and agility. We also work with faculty and students at the School on projects related to technology for addressing the various challenges older adults are facing today.
We are grateful that the partnership with the School of Nursing paved the way to expand into partnerships with the Schools of Pharmacy, Social Work, and Medicine. Involving all of these schools provides an even more holistic and interdisciplinary approach to enhancing the health and wellbeing of our residents. To illustrate this, I’ll share a few examples:
- Led by Dr. Belza and the Schools of Nursing and Social Work, we developed Thrive, our evidence-informed wellness program designed to promote good health, greater energy, and heightened life enjoyment
- With the School of Social Work, we introduced a number of resident and family supportive programs
- With the School of Pharmacy, we implemented a medication management program
4. The de Tornyay Center for Healthy Aging has benefited greatly from your partnership. In addition to the support to the Nursing Faculty – some of our research participants have come from your communities. How has this opportunity benefited the communities at Era, the individuals, and the nursing staff?
By participating in the research studies conducted by the faculty and the de Tornyay Center, our residents have been able to see firsthand the efforts to enhance their daily lives, whether it be through research and pilot programs in motion sensor technology or the current interventions for cognitive impairment. As an organization, this participation helps enhance our brand and advance our mission. Being on the forefront of innovation in healthy aging also helps attract and retain great talent, a critical cornerstone to serving our residents.
We are very grateful to Dr. Rheba de Tornyay and Dr. Heather Young for their vision and commitment to healthy aging. In fact, many years ago, it was their influence that helped shape the aging in place model at our University House Wallingford community, where we came to emphasize the importance of dignified living – where people would not have to live in different wings based on their care level. This is our philosophy at all of our communities.
We look forward to continuing our partnership and growing Dr. de Tornyay’s amazing legacy of healthy aging.
5. What inspired you and Rebecca to establish the Aljoya Professorship in Healthy Aging, which Dr. Basia Belza holds?
We felt that there’s always more we can do to enhance the quality of life for people as they age. We knew that this Professorship would continue the wonderful work the School does in the area of gerontology and aging. On a personal note, we named the Professorship “Aljoya” because we wanted to revive the family name of my mother’s family who perished in the Holocaust with no survivors, providing continuity to their legacy. This Professorship honors their memory by creating a positive impact on the lives of many.
6. What do you hope to see in the future of nursing?
We hope to see a continued focus on training our future nurses to embrace gerontology, to be dedicated to excellence in nursing, and to continue seeking new ways of enhancing the lives of older adults. We know that with the leadership and guidance of Dean Emami and the School’s faculty, we will continue to reach many more accomplishments together.