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Local Engagements Achieve Results

Two programs, the Living Independently for Elders (LIFE) program and the Healthy in Philadelphia (HIP) program demonstrate how Penn Nursing engages with and makes a difference to a diverse local community.

The Philadelphia area presents myriad opportunities for Penn nursing students to learn about the practice of care by engaging with patients and learning about their healthcare concerns. 

Since 1998, the Living Independently For Elders (LIFE) program has advanced a unique, interdisciplinary system of all-inclusive healthcare for frail seniors in West and Southwest Philadelphia. Funded by Medicare and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Public Welfare, LIFE offers these seniors, faced with probable nursing home placement, the choice to instead remain in their community, live in their homes and receive care in the Philadelphia-based LIFE center. 

“We provide nurse pracitioner-based primary care to more than 400 older adults through this program,” says Pamela Z. Cacchione, PhD, APRN, GNP, BC, Raiston Hous Endowed Term Chair in Gerontological Nursing and associate professor of  Geropsychiatric Nursing. “Our interdisciplinary model of care delivers results, and has achieved high family and community satisfaction.” 

In 2013, the program expanded to serve senior citizens in the Yeadon, Lansdowne, Upper Darby and Havertown communities in nearby Delaware County, PA. Penn’s LIFE program remains the first and only one in the nation to be owned and operated by a school of nursing. This program provides direct care to patients, but also offers learning opportunities for students as well as rich sources of data for researchers studying a range of health concerns. 

“Our undergraduate students have a unique opportunity to work directly with a diverse, underserved population who require complex care,” Dr. Cacchione explains. “In addition, they have been involved in research projects that have helped to decrease the number of 9-1-1 calls from LIFE members and developed a falls database that has helped them learn about how to put appropriate interventions in place and advance our mission of care. Penn Nursing doctoral students have worked with seniors in he LIFE program to understand their fears and concerns about falling,  and how the neighborhood enviornment impacts those concerns.” 

An Academically Based Community Service )ABCS) course, launched in 2005, leverages collaboration among pediatric acute care nurse practitioner students, high school students in West Philadelphia and Penn’s Netter Center for Community Partnerships to deliver a dynamic collection of outreach activities to improve the health of adults and children.

“A major goal of our program is to collaborate with the neighboring community - many of whom are at high risk for diabetes - regarding interventions to prevent the disease through good nutrition, exercise and recognition of warning signs,” says Terri H. Lipman, GNu’83, GRN’91,  PhD, CRNP, FAAN, Miriam Stirl Endowed Term Professor of Nutrition, professor of Nursing of Children and newly-named interim assistant dean for Community Engagement. 

To achieve that, Penn Nursing faculty and graduate students partner with high school students enrolled in Penn’s Urban Nutrition Initiative, to help children and adults fight obesity, a key factor in Type 2 diabetes, through a unique dance program called Dance for Health.