In early September, UNC undergraduate and graduate students from 10 disciplines gathered at the auditorium in the School of Social Work for an informational meeting to learn about Beyond Clinic Walls. The Partnerships in Aging Program is joined by Carol Woods Retirement Community, UNC’s Student Health Action Coalition, and Orange County’s Department on Aging to support this service-learning program. Beyond Clinic Walls matches teams of 6-8 UNC students with older adults or young children with complex social and healthcare needs living in Chapel Hill and Orange County. Teams meet with their client each month throughout the academic year, getting to know their clients as people, not cases, and giving students insight into the gaps in services and challenges that many people face. Kelly Richardson, student in the School of Pharmacy is the Program Director. The program is coordinated by Elizabeth Hart, an Occupational Therapist and former Beyond Clinic Walls participant.
On Sept. 19, the official kick-off meeting was hosted at Carol Woods Retirement Community. The event brought over 80 UNC students together with 10 senior mentors for an evening of asking tough questions about why aging is so often associated with loss and decline in our society. Student teams are connected with their clients and will start their monthly meetings soon. The Partnerships in Aging Program is excited to provide leadership for this interdisciplinary project. We expect Beyond Clinic Walls to inspire the next generation of practitioners to think holistically about aging, redefining elderhood as a time for growth and giving back.