Robyn Kohn, MA in Educational Psychology
Robyn is the Director of Programs and Services the Greater New Jersey Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association. She previously has held many positions of leadership in a variety of health settings.
Robyn relates that having the nurse volunteers working with the Alzheimer’s Association has been a wonderful experience. Working with the nurses has allowed the Alzheimer’s Association to extend and expand our education programs as well as our other programs and services we offer to our families. It has been a wonderful, enriching learning opportunity as all of the nurses who volunteer with the Alzheimer’s Association, have been very dedicated and are very passionate. The Alzheimer’s Association provides training sessions for our volunteers, where they learn about the organization, the gaps in care, unmet needs, and the different programs offered to the community. The nurses have been wonderful about engaging in these training sessions at our volunteer university, but also going out into the community to be further mentored and trained. It has been a tremendous experience.
Robyn further notes that it so important to have nurses leading the programs that the Alzheimer’s Association provides. These programs are provided to health care professionals and the community including care partners, care givers and People Living with Alzheimer’s and all dementia. They are national education programs which are updated on a regular basis and range from research advancements and therapeutic approaches to information for caregivers. So, the experience of the nurses, clinically, really help us [Alzheimer’s Association] to understand the clinical environment. The nurses help close the gap of what we are seeing in the community and the educational needs, services, and programs that need to be provided. The nurses provide an understanding of what tools, resources, and services we need to deliver quality care for all those affected by Alzheimer’s disease or dementia. With our nurses we are able to build stronger ties to our community resources and community organizations. The nurses are absolutely integral to enhancing and empowering our caregivers on their journey.
We have a small group of nurses that have continued to keep in touch with us. For example, we partner with them for our biggest fundraiser, Walk to End Alzheimer’s. They join me at the information tent. The nurses pass out brochures and engage the families in conversation about the services, and even help with support care consultations; our one-on-one with the families. Keep in mind all of our services and programs are free. The nurses are full mission.
Since the pandemic we need more nurses to deliver our programs virtually. We are offering our programs weekly, and our service area has expanded. Now with the virtual platform we have a 500-mile radius of families and so we don’t know what to expect at any given program. We are planning on continuing with the virtual platform until the end of this year and beyond. It’s been a real learning experience, you can only affect change to so many people when meeting in small groups; however, virtually we now are reaching an increased number of people. Our nurses help to facilitate these groups. These programs are not as generalized as the live programs so the needs are different. It’s always good to have a co-presenter, that nurse, to have candid conversations with our caregiver community and to help us help them.
The nurses in the most recent past have really helped us by being present at health fairs, education programs, community forums, and now we’re hoping that we can identify and recruit new nurses, community nurses, that may have some time to be able to lend to our families that are on the journey of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Additionally, Robyn makes the point that the Alzheimer’s Association offers important opportunities for nurses who volunteer. This year, for example, the Alzheimer’s Association international conference is being held online and is free to attend. The nurses benefit from learning to moderate community forums and learn about community needs.
Take away: I think this is an outstanding relationship. I just think it’s a great experience!