The “Time Out” program, a caregiver support program that provides at-home care for local senior citizens within the College of Education’s Intergenerational Center, will return in Spring 2019 after three years of inactivity.
The Pew Charitable Trusts awarded the center $225,000 to help relaunch the program. The program is returning in collaboration with the Penn Memory Center, said Patience Lehrman, the executive director of the Intergenerational Center.
The program provides relief to family caregivers and companionship service to elderly people by matching them with trained college students.
“Caregivers need to [de-stress], run errands, go to work and they need to make sure there is a reliable and trustworthy person in the presence of the loved one,” Lehrman said.
The Time Out program has served families in the Philadelphia area since 1986. The program was interrupted because the center did not apply for the grant as the center transitioned from the College of Social Work to the College of Education, Lehrman said. The grant is issued on a three-year cycle.
“When the Time Out program ended, it was a loss for many of our families,” said Felicia Greenfield, the executive director of the Penn Memory Center.
The Penn Memory Center, under Penn Medicine, researches, diagnoses and treats symptoms related to progressive memory loss in those 65 and older.
Now, Penn will help to recruit families and students, apply its expertise in dementia care and caregiving, implement coping strategies for caregivers and clinically evaluate the outcomes of the program. Penn previously referred patients to the program.
The program is open to a spectrum of families, some of whom are geriatric patients who are physically frail, homebound, socially isolated or have very mild memory impairment. The program also supports patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia, Greenfield said.
Students pursuing careers in fields like nursing, social work, public health and gerontology are targeted for recruitment, but students don’t need previous experience working with elderly people to work there, Lehrman said.
Greenfield said she hopes the application process will open during winter break.
“We want students who are genuinely passionate about working with [the] elderly,” Lehrman said. “Not everybody comes from that place. This is a growing and emerging population. My advice to students is if you can develop a career in this field, you will be in business for a long time.”
Although the program is housed in the College of Education, it goes beyond Temple and the University of Pennsylvania. Students from Villanova, Drexel, La Salle and Swarthmore College were involved in the program in the past and will be recruited to participate again, Lehrman said.
Jenna Luzier, a senior social work major and the president of the Social Work Student Collective said she thinks the program will be beneficial to the community.
“It helps students give back to the community and gain experience at the same time,” Luzier said. “I know many students who enjoy working with elderly [people] and would like to tell them about it.”
Students engage with patients through brain-stimulating activities, like, arts, crafts, dance or story readings Lehrman said. They are not required to provide home-aid help or assist with activities like bathing or dressing.
A coordinator, once hired, will conduct initial interviews with students and screen families. Lehrman said the program hopes to help 450 families over the next three years. She added that there will be a matching program to ensure the family and student find a connection and the experience is pleasant for both sides.
“We know one fundamental thing about building relationships,” Lehrman said. “We build more relationships faster and stronger with people who we believe are like us. The more we feel like we are connected to someone, we tend to want to get to know them more and trust them.”