Students from the Tokyo University of Social Welfare returned to the Elizabeth Seton Residence this month for their annual educational visit. The Elizabeth Seton Residence has hosted an educational visit for Japanese students from this University for over fifteen years. The program, run in conjunction with Harvard University, brings students to New York and Boston to see for themselves how facilities in the United States provide senior care for our frail elders. Most of the students are studying to be Social Workers. They visited accompanied by chaperones and interpreters, to ensure a successful experience.

The Elizabeth Seton Residence has been specifically selected to host these students over the years because it is a state-of-the-art skilled nursing and rehabilitation facility that provides outstanding and unique programs for their Residents. The group of around 15 – 20 students attend lectures at both Harvard and Brandeis University in the mornings and visit carefully selected senior care venues covering multiple aspects of American health and social welfare programs in the afternoons. Lori Ferrante, Administrator at the Elizabeth Seton Residence tells us, “We enjoy welcoming the students each year, as we learn about both the similarities and differences in Japanese and American health care support systems for seniors. Students from this international educational program have been visiting the Elizabeth Seton Residence for a number of years to see how our Catholic, mission-driven, skilled nursing care facility benefits our elder residents. They enjoy learning how our unique programming contributes to the overall health and well-being of all our residents.”

After touring Elizabeth Seton Residence to see resident rooms and learn about the type of care seniors receive at a skilled nursing facility, the students had an opportunity to ask questions of our Social Worker, Nurses, and Activities Director.

One of the programs they heard about is how the residents at the Elizabeth Seton Residence enjoy and benefit from ballroom dancing. Ballroom dancing is not just a social event. Studies have shown that dancing can improve strength, balance and fall-reduction, while enhancing socialization and promoting a culture of inclusion that improves their quality of life. The students also enjoyed learning about our “Meaningful Moments” program initiative, developed and implemented in collaboration with our Fusion Rehabilitation team specifically for residents with dementia. This program identifies and provides activities that match a resident’s cognitive capability, optimizing opportunities for residents with dementia to experience meaningful engagement, fun and success.

The afternoon concluded with a fun multi-generational international gathering when a group of our residents joined the students for a lesson in Origami. The smiles and laughter broke the communication barrier as students worked side by side with residents to fold intricate paper designs. Residents enjoyed the enthusiasm, good humor, and gentle caring that these future social workers shared.

In spending time with our residents, and learning about programs such as those offered by facilities like the Elizabeth Seton Residence, the students from the Tokyo University of Social Welfare return to Japan with a fuller understanding of the variety of programs and services utilized to support frail elders in the United States.