For staff at Maimonides and Jewish Eldercare, a sure sign of summer is seeing groups of MISSIVE students, dressed in their distinctive brightly-coloured T-shirts, circulating on the units and among the residents.
Now in its 32nd year, MISSIVE (Maimonides Intensive Summer Session for Individual Volunteer Experience) is a unique eight-week summer program for students over the age of 17 who are interested in pursuing a career in a healthcare profession.
“The MISSIVES’ work here benefits everyone at the centre,” says SAPA Coordinator Daniela Vrabie. “The departments that participate in the program receive help from bright and eager volunteers who carry out a variety of tasks, such as data gathering for research and audits. The residents also enjoy invaluable one-on-one time with the youths,” she explains. “So not only are MISSIVES welcome companions to our residents, but their very presence helps to remind staff of best practices.”
The students, meanwhile, gain exposure to a wide range of professions, from risk management, research and pharmacy to rehab services and therapeutic recreation.
This summer, Brigitte Lavoie, the Risk Manager for SAPA, oversaw 12 MISSIVE students who helped conduct safety audits. The students searched residence rooms for items that could be potentially dangerous to a resident in long-term care, such as prescription creams, lighters and electrical appliances. They alerted staff to any safety hazards so that proper measures could be taken to ensure the residents lived in the safest possible environment.
The program’s students also received risk management training, led by Ms. Lavoie, which gave them a behind-the-scenes perspective on the importance of charts and the dangers of medical errors, says Jessica Palanov, Assistant MISSIVE Coordinator at Maimonides. “It made them more aware of how seemingly harmless products, even everyday items like soaps, shampoos and creams, can become potentially dangerous, especially with this clientele.”
Ms. Lavoie says she is gratified that over the years, many of the MISSIVES she’s worked with have been inspired to pursue careers in risk management. “I try to make it personal and teach them that no matter what your healthcare profession, your responsibility is to protect people while offering quality service.”
(Photo: MISSIVE students Elizabeth Youn and Christina Youssef conduct a safety audit, looking for dangerous items in a resident’s room at Jewish Eldercare.)