Familiarizing new doctors with community-based programs that support well-being is the goal of a new collaboration between Mount Auburn Hospital and Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES).
The joint effort is a four-part training program for residents that focuses on how home-based programs can help maintain patient health, explained SCES Clinical Director Annie Fowler.
“While doctors generally don’t make direct referrals to SCES, we do think there is value in raising awareness about what we provide and how it can help maintain health,” said Fowler. “If they know about a program that can help, that makes it more likely they’ll recommend a provider within their practice get in touch with us to follow up.”
The program combines traditional training with site visits. Residents accompany SCES staffers to client homes, to see firsthand how the services and supports are delivered.
Now in its second session, the collaboration was proposed by Dr. Daniel Solomon of Mount Auburn. In an email comment, he said community engagement is an important facet of resident training, citing the importance of social determinants of health.
“We set out to design an experience that helps residents understand patients’ illnesses in the social context of their lives, and to help them understand how issues like home safety, food and housing security, social networks and supports can affect the evolution of medical disease, especially for our most vulnerable populations,” said Solomon.
Mount Auburn residents also spent time working at Boston Healthcare for the Homeless, along with other community efforts. Solomon said the SCES training would ideally lead to increased cooperation that will benefit patients.
“Our hope is that by exposing residents to organizations like SCES, they will learn to be patient advocates, and be able to leverage and engage community resources on behalf of patients,” said Solomon.
The SCES training includes sessions focused on Homecare, Adult Protective Services, the SHINE health insurance assistance program, and volunteer programs that help clients meet their health care needs.
Speaking roughly halfway through the most recent training, Mount Auburn Senior Resident Stephanie Antoine said it has been time well spent.
“When I talk about SCES now, I know the people and the place,” she said. “Knowing about how these programs work definitely makes it easier for us to refer people who are need of these services.”