THIBODAUX – Thirteen nursing seniors are taking to the highways of Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes to spread empathy for the elderly through the â€œTake a Walk in My Shoesâ€ project.
Equipped with physical limitation suits and vision-obscuring glasses and funded by a $13,372 grant from the LAT Workforce Investment Board Inc., the student nurses will help health care workers experience and perhaps better understand the effects of common ailments like arthritis, glaucoma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and hearing loss.
The project is coordinated by Amanda Eymard and Brandi Crawford, assistant professors of nursing. With the help of their student volunteers, they will conduct in-service presentations at Thibodaux Regional Medical Center, Terrebonne General Medical Center, South Lafourche Nursing Center in Cut Off, Louisiana Rehabilitation Services, Work Connection in Thibodaux and the Louisiana Technical College campuses in Thibodaux and Galliano.
Health care professionals will experience simulated ailments by using a cane and a walker and wearing ear plugs, glasses that distort vision, a physical limitation suit that restricts movement and an empathy lung that restricts breathing.
The point, Eymard says, is to â€œincrease empathy and understanding, to help people be more patient with older people who may have trouble counting money in the check-out line at the grocery store or reading the directions on prescription bottles.â€
â€œThis really does work,â€ Crawford says. â€œItâ€™s neat to see the reaction of students when they try to lean over and tie their shoestrings or breathe while wearing the empathy lung.â€
When working with the geriatric population, people tend to get frustrated, Eymard says. Itâ€™s becoming a priority, particularly in the health care industry, she says, where 40 to 50 percent of patients are over 65 years of age.
The students, all graduating nursing seniors, volunteered more than 18 hours of their time and their own transportation costs to participate in the project. They are Neysa Birmingham of Metairie, Kitty Bishop of Morgan City, Kristen Clement of Thibodaux, Erin Eschete of Houma, Jude Foret of Raceland, Danielle Hebert of Plattenville, Jill Mabry of Thibodaux, Mary Nguyen of Marrero, Nicholas Owens of Thibodaux, Brandon Poche of Des Allemands, Lesley St. Pierre of Destreha