Implementing Health Information Stations at the Addiction Recovery Center
Six Seattle Pacific University nursing students partnered with an addiction recovery center to address aging healthcare concerns. The recovery center is a non-profit organization that provides a refuge for healing for community members recovering from trauma, homelessness, addiction, and other mental health challenges. Through our weekly meetings with the community, we wanted to address specific barriers such as aging healthcare concerns. We focused on how the low-income aging population posed barriers to aging well.
There has also been a rise in poverty in aging populations (Saldanha, 2023). Though aging influences a variety of health factors, for the goal of our project and the needs expressed by our community, our group researched the effects of cardiovascular health, mobility, and stress management issues as they relate to the low-income, aging population.
In the state of Washington, coronary heart disease ranks as the 2nd leading cause of death, with 80 per 100,000 individuals sustaining heart disease each year (Washington Department of Health, 2018). The prevalence of cardiovascular diseases is higher among the older population and is an important factor in the deterioration of cardiovascular health (Rodgers et al., 2019). Not only does aging affect heart health, but socioeconomic status also plays a role. A study analyzing trends of cardiovascular health and income found that individuals below the US federal poverty line between 2013 and 2014 had a 10% increase in hypertension compared to those 300% above the federal poverty line (Beckman, 2017).
Furthermore, psychosocial stressors in late life can hinder the health of aging populations. Chronic stress and negative life events have been found to increase the risk of illness and disease (De Frias, 2015). Protective measures such as mindfulness techniques are an effective way to help the aging population self-regulate their emotions and reduce their stress levels.
Another common limitation seen within this aging population is mobility. One-fourth of Americans ages 65+ will fall each year as found by the National Council on Aging in 2023. In King County, between 2020 and 2021, there was a 9% increase in fall-related deaths for individuals ages 60 and above (Sound Generation, 2023). For individuals of lower socioeconomic status, access to mobility devices, transportation, and unsafe sidewalks are among many other factors such as not updating vision or hearing that can influence whether individuals sustain falls or not.
Activities and Rationale
The first few weeks at the recovery cafe were focused on gathering data on community needs. From our conversations, we found a need for the shared desire for knowledge on healthy living. From there, during weeks 3 and 4, we created surveys to gauge what specific topics residents had knowledge gaps on.
Through feedback from members, we created three learning stations for our project where we educated members on cardiovascular concerns, mobility, and stress management. Our method of one-to-one teaching helped establish rapport when implementing our interventions by assessing the member’s understanding. In addition, this method allowed our group to create an encouraging environment for open communication and is utilized in clinical and community settings (Yen & Leisure, 2019). Members of the agency have a vital role and ability to understand information that has a significant impact on their health.
At the cardiac station, we took the blood pressure of the members and discussed different lifestyle interventions. At the mobility station, group members assessed knowledge deficits about topics of fall prevention, access to mobility devices, and exercise benefits. The stress management station offered cards with breathing techniques and stress hotspots in the body for the members to take home along with the stress balls. Group members acknowledged stress indicators and discussed positive and negative coping mechanisms for stress relief. Each station conducted a quiz where we gauged the members’ overall knowledge before and after our education sessions. The quizzes showed us whether members had a knowledge deficit and if our training sessions helped bridge the gap and increase health literacy.
In the cardiovascular station, we had a total of 12 members come by our station. We found over 50% of the participants who had their blood pressure checked, had stage 2 hypertension. In our pre-survey, 80% of individuals interviewed had a question about cardiac health for us before teaching and 90% of the participants noted that they learned something in the post-survey. Additionally, in the pre-survey, 30% of the members interviewed, answered question 4 incorrectly by not picking “managing stress” as aiding heart health. For individuals who answered survey questions incorrectly, we educated them on the correct lifestyle interventions to manage heart health.
At the stress relieving station, we were able to ask questions to community members about recognizing when they may be stressed. Our goal was to address any negative coping mechanisms and replace them with positive coping mechanisms such as breathing techniques, the use of stress balls, and the recognition of stress. An outcome was for community members to implement these techniques into their lives. Out of the 13 responses received in our pre-evaluation survey, 76.9% of the members recognized when they were stressed. However, 46.8% of the members implemented positive coping mechanisms, which was why we focused our education material on meditation and breathing. In the post-evaluation survey, 100% of people stated they learned something new and 80% of people stated they would be using this in their own life.
At the mobility group, we had a total of 10 people stop by our station and 4 members who revisited showing their engagement. Through our pre-evaluation, we discovered that 45% of members had knowledge deficits on fall risk factors and resources available to them for help besides their provider. After providing an individualized educational plan, there was an increase in retention shown by the teach-back method as evidenced by a 50% increase in post-eval results and 90% stated they learned something new.
Our group was limited by the cafe’s schedule. Lunchtime was also difficult to implement interventions as many residents were focused on eating. This may have been a reason why we received fewer participants at our education sessions, which could have skewed our results to not accurately represent the Wednesday population as a whole.
We gained a better understanding of the barriers seen within this aging population through our three stations. We realized aging well meant more than just recognizing and preventing an individual disease because it is hard to address health needs on a condition-related basis. We realized we needed a population strategy that focused on both objective and subjective determinants and health outcomes of a population (Tkatch, 2016). After analyzing our data, we realized successful aging reflects a combination of both objective and subjective measures of health for the older adult population.
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Yi, Esther; Hernandez, Daryn; Umer, Maryam; Alvarez, Jasmine; Ward, Kaitlyn; and Padilla, Riciajoy, "Implementing Health Information Stations at Addiction Recovery Center" (2023). Nursing Leadership in Community Engagement Projects. 38.
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