Putting theory into practice

RMIT student Ryan Townley-Jones chats with Uniting AgeWell Manor Lakes resident Kevin Peterson.

Bachelor of Social Work students are getting the chance to learn and develop outside the classroom by doing six-month placements at Uniting AgeWell Manor Lakes Community .

Manor Lakes Care Manager Kimberley Briggs said the Community wanted to provide students with a supportive environment where they can be challenged and gain valuable experience towards their studies.

“This is the first time we’ve hosted students in the field of social work,” she said.

Naomi Fraser and Ryan Townley-Jones, both completing the degree at RMIT University, commenced their placements in August last year.

Ms Briggs said the placement was initially for students to assist new residents settling into the Manor Lakes Community.

“It was an opportunity for new residents who tend to isolate themselves, to receive extra social support,” she said.

“However, the students showed great initiative and were so impressive, their placement expanded to include other residents and lifestyle activities.”

Each student now looks after a caseload of two to three residents at a time as well as taking group activities, with Naomi heading up the horticultural project and Ryan the men’s activities.

“The group activities are really taking off and becoming very popular among residents,” Ms Briggs said.

“Many residents also love the one-on-one interaction, especially the emotional support received.”

Ryan said the placement was an eye opener for him, bringing to light issues facing older people, such as social isolation and depression.

“From an advocacy perspective, I realise how important adequate funding in aged care is,” he said.

“Adequate staff and the means to engage residents through activities, make a significant difference to the wellbeing of residents.”

Ryan said it was a pleasure to take part in the digital My Story project, giving him greater insight into the lives of the residents.

“Manor Lakes has provided an incredible environment for my professional development, giving me the opportunity to put into practice techniques in counselling and behavioural management,” he said.

Both Naomi and Ryan complete their placements at Manor Lakes in February.

RMIT Associate Professor of Field Education, Ronnie Egan, thanked the Manor Lakes team for hosting and supporting the students.

“Hopefully this may be the start of something bigger,” she said.

During a monthly review, RMIT and Manor Lakes staff agreed the experience was really positive for both residents and students.




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