Orange County Mediators Participate in Aging Sensitivity Training Provided by SCAN Health Plan.
Staff and volunteer mediators with the Orange County Dispute Resolution Programs Act Collaborative had an opportunity to "become senior citizens" yesterday thanks to Trading Ages, an interactive senior sensitivity training program sponsored by SCAN Health Plan and OC Human Relations Council. The award-winning workshop provides participants the opportunity to experience the challenges of aging through a series of hands-on exercises and sensory perception education.
"This was an invaluable opportunity for our mediators to experience the common physical and emotional challenges that are a part of the aging process," said Mike Finkle, Human Relations Specialist for OC Human Relations. "For awhile, our mediators were able to, nearly literally, 'take a walk in the shoes' of seniors and others who live with such challenges every day. Given our mission of fostering mutual understanding among Orange County residents and SCAN's strong background in serving and meeting the needs of seniors, this was an ideal pairing."
According to Sherry Stanislaw, senior vice president of the nonprofit SCAN Health Plan, which created the Trading Ages program, participants are often surprised by how they react to certain physical limitations that are mimicked during the program, and many have commented on what an eye-opening experience it can be.
To simulate experiencing the difficulties of living with arthritis, for example, program participants were asked to don heavy, clumsy gloves and then button their shirts or open medication bottles and handle small pills. Participants also put popcorn in their shoes and walked around to simulate the feeling of painful joints. Others strapped their arm to their side to see how limiting it can be to deal with the effects of a stroke.
Depriving participants of the level of hearing and sight that most people enjoy their entire lives was also a critical part of the program. Ear plugs were used followed by a hearing test to demonstrate how isolating hearing loss can be. Perhaps most difficult for many participants was when they were asked to wear special glasses that severely limited their vision and approximated many of the vision challenges and disorders that accompany aging.
SCAN has been offering aging sensitivity training to its employees for many years as a way to better understand the needs and mindset of its health plan members. The program also continues to be offered to SCAN board members, physician groups and to elementary school children to enhance their sensitivity in dealing with older adults.
"With our society rapidly aging, this type of education across all ages and industries is more important than ever," said Stanislaw. "As a health plan focused exclusively on the needs of seniors, SCAN is in a unique position to help people understand more about the aging process."
OC Human Relations is a nonprofit agency whose mission is to foster mutual understanding among residents and eliminate prejudice, intolerance and discrimination in order to make Orange County a better place for all people to live, work and do business. Resolving conflicts between people in a collaborative and mutually beneficial manner, whether it is through their court, family or community mediation programs, is a vital component of accomplishing that mission. Helping mediators to gain a better understanding of the physical and emotional challenges faced by disputing parties of any age through such sensitivity training can add greatly to their effectiveness in achieving those goals.
For more than 30 years, SCAN Health Plan has been focusing on the unique needs of seniors and is now the country's fourth largest not-for-profit Medicare Advantage plan. The company currently has nearly 130,000 members in California and Arizona. Further information may be obtained at scanhealthplan.com.
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