The school bell was ringing this week at Valleyview Care Home.
The county-owned nursing home took another step toward becoming a full-fledged teaching facility Tuesday, when 19 representatives from area nursing homes attended a seminar, "Exercise for the Adult Care Home Resident."
The seminar was sponsored by Valleyview and Kansas University's department of health, physical education and recreation. The two have cooperated in an exercise program since the fall of 1988. The program calls for KU students in exercise science to complete full-time internships at the nursing home.
"Valleyview gets free instruction and our people get experience working with older people, so it's a good marriage," said Wayne Osness, professor and chairman of KU's HPER department.
A GRANT FROM the Rice Foundation supplies $1,000 a year and "helps provide the glue, really, that holds it together," Osness said.
"It's gone very well," he said. "We've had people up doing things that have been bed-ridden before."
Osness said, "The data is very clear that physical activity is very important for older people." Research has shown that people who are physically fit feel better about themselves and their environment, he said, and this spills over to their relations with fellow nursing home residents and the staff members.
Faye McAfee, Valleyview administrator, agreed that the program has been beneficial.
"I think the residents that have participated are more alert. They're more flexible and physically fit," she said. "They really enjoy the students. That's been a real benefit right there, just the interaction."
PART OF BEING a teaching nursing home is sharing knowledge with other facilities, McAfee and Osness said, and that's what led to Tuesday's seminar.
Nicole Soder, a KU graduate student in exercise science who has interned at Valleyview for three semesters, lectured class members Tuesday about starting exercise programs in their nursing homes and explained the Valleyview program.
Many of the exercises and games are designed to be performed from chairs because many of the people in Valleyview's program are in wheelchairs. In addition to the basic exercises to improve strength and range of motion, they play games with foam rubber frisbees, beachballs, bean bags and balloons.
"I think it went pretty well," Soder said after the hourlong seminar.
SODER SAID she expects to stay involved with the Valleyview program in some capacity next semester.
"It's been really enjoyable to me," she said, adding that she plans to work in gerontology after she gets her master's degree.
The nursing homes represented at the seminar were Heritage Manor, Presbyterian Manor, Cedarwood Living Center and Brandon Woods, all in Lawrence, and Orchard Lane Nursing Facility in Baldwin, the Eudora Nursing Center and Cherokee Lodge in Oskaloosa.
Patty Byington, program director at Presbyterian Manor, said she thought the seminar was valuable.
"Some of the information we were fairly familiar with, but I wasn't familiar with some of the more technical aspects," she said.
PRESBYTERIAN Manor runs three exercise programs, she said, ranging from aerobics to simple exercises designed to increase circulation and flexibility.
"We are fortunate in this town to have so many students from KU who are willing to be involved with programs outside the university," she said.
Phyllis Hood, activity director at Cherokee Lodge, said she works mainly with elderly residents who can't exercise, moving their arms and legs and trying to maintain some flexibility.
"Our average age here is about 88," she said. But she said the exercise program is a good idea for the younger nursing home residents who are able to move for themselves.
"I'm activity director but I'm very interested in physical therapy because I can see the good that it does," she said.
Frances Fischer, who chairs Valleyview's Committee for a Teaching Nursing Home, also said she was pleased by the seminar. The committee probably will meet in the next week or two to go over the evaluation forms filled out by seminar participants. Although no decisions have been made, both Fischer and Osness said they hope to hold seminars at Valleyview on a regular basis.
Fischer said she'd like to see other departments at KU get involved with Valleyview, which would also help upgrade the quality of care.