Many college students live in dorms, or in apartments with other college students, but that is not always the case. Undergraduate student Danielle Hobach, BS Occupational Studies, Therapeutic Recreation Track, Minor in Psychology, Certificate in Healthy Aging, moved into the senior living community Luther Manor at the beginning of the semester as a Student Artist in Residence.
Student Artists in Residence
The Student Artists in Residence (SAIR) Program is designed to give student artists time and space to become part of a community and engage in art-making. SAIRs are paired with a community-mentor, together they identify a goal for the year, and then plan and facilitate a series of workshops toward that goal.
SAIRs are compensated through either room and board within the community where they are placed, such as senior living facilities, or they receive a stipend. While the primary community partners are senior living centers, others include Walkers Point Medical Clinic, Interfaith Older Adult Programs, or the Village of Shorewood School District.
As a student in the College of Health Sciences, Hobach is not the typical student applying for a SAIR position. However, when she heard about the program, she knew she needed to apply. Hobach explained, “My background in health and therapeutic recreation put me in a strong position to work with older adults in this setting. I am passionate about and bring healthcare and art together.”
Placement at Luther Manor
When Hobach found out that she had a placement in Luther Manor, she was thrilled. She moved into the senior community in August as a Life Enrichment Intern. In her position, she lives on location, attends community events and hosts workshops for the residents.
The workshops happen twice a month. During each workshop, Hobach focuses on socially engaging residents who have different levels of ability. When she first started, Hobach assisted her supervisor, Kathy Jastromski, with baking groups where the residents work together to make bread or other baked goods. Baking allows the older adults to experience the activity using all their senses.
Recently, Hobach started teaching her own workshops. Her first workshop centered around making Sweet Tweet Birdfeeders. Residents were able to make pinecone birdfeeders by spreading peanut butter and rolling the pinecones in birdseed.
Her second workshop focused on making welcome cards for new adults moving into the senior community. Danielle modified the card making activity to meet the different needs of each resident. The result was over 30 cards to be distributed throughout the community and the formation of The Welcome Club.
Clinical Associate Professor, Occupational Studies Coordinator and Therapeutic Recreation Certificate Coordinator Patricia Thomas, MPA, CTRS, explained, “It was important for Danielle to plan on various activity adaptations to match the strengths of different residents. When older adults are able to make their own choices and be actively engaged, they are empowered.”
When she first moved in, Hobach said that she felt secure in her knowledge, but the experience has given her a new, broader perspective. She explained, “The classes I am taking gave me a good knowledge foundation. However, the practical experience, and being a member of their community, has enhanced my ability to work with elders in a senior community.”
Hobach explained that she is able to implement her class knowledge such as the aging process, person first language and task analysis to real life situations. She hopes that her passion for working with older adults is demonstrated through her words and actions.
She explains that learning about the operations of a senior community has been challenging, but she wants to focus on the residents. She explained, “It is important to remember that each resident is a person with a name and a story.” Her goal is to empower the residents so that they still have control over their life by making choices.