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College of Human Ecology

K-State student from Sublette researches diversity and aging issues, creates training curriculum for long-term care facilities

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Shelby GriffinMANHATTAN -- A Kansas State University student is helping develop curriculum to address aging and diversity issues that occur in long-term care facilities.

Shelby Griffin, a May 2009 bachelor's graduate in human ecology and gerontology, Sublette, worked on a project with Laci Cornelison, research assistant at K-State's Center on Aging, to develop a training program on diversity that nurses could take for their continuing education units.

"It's an issue that if understood could benefit a lot of people," Griffin said.

Diversity and aging are becoming more of an issue as people working in long-term care facilities are becoming more diverse, including in their ethnicity, religious beliefs and sexual orientation, Griffin said. Facilities in Kansas also are becoming more diverse, with more of their residents from minority groups, and because people are living longer and need long-term care, she said.

"The baby boomer population is getting older and there will be a huge amount of that population going into the long-term care system," Griffin said. "Now is a good time to be talking about diversity and aging because we'll be dealing with the increase in a few years."

Griffin looked at material on diversity and determined how it could be arranged for a six-hour training session. She said the session would inform staff about diversity issues, how to cope with the issues and how learning communication skills could prevent problems.

"Nurses work long shifts and usually are spread thin," Griffin said. "If you can eliminate some of those diversity conflicts it would make the working experience better for them, and then they could serve their clients better."

Griffin designed the class structure and created activities and case studies for the course. Cornelison said one of the case studies introduces an issue where an elderly resident is racist against a staff member, and another involves diversity issues between residents. She said the course also would address sexual diversity, which is an area that is in demand of awareness.

"There has been a rise in resident diversity, but staff diversity has just blown up," Cornelison said. "That's where clashes have been."

Cornelison said the Center on Aging will facilitate training sessions this summer, including courses on sexuality in nursing homes and aging simulations. She said Griffin's curriculum might be available as a continuing education unit in the fall.

"Shelby brings a lot of energy," Cornelison said. "This is a topic we hadn't developed very far, and we didn't have the staff time to devote."

Griffin gave a poster presentation of the project at Manhattan's Meadowlark Hills Retirement Community in May for a seminar in gerontology course. She will continue at K-State in the fall as a master's student in regional and community planning.

"Gerontology is a growing field," Griffin said. "I think it will be a great time to help with neighborhood planning that is more focused on the geriatric population."

At K-State, Griffin was a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and the Navigators student leadership team. A 2005 graduate of Sublette High School, she is the daughter of Mac and Kit Griffin.

Prepared by Media Relations

This article was posted on Tuesday, June 23, 2009, and is filed under College News.