Community Care Partners
By Daria M. Gray, Speech Pathologist
During my visits to Molokai last November and again this past March, I saw the challenges facing care partners struggling to meet the needs of their kupuna who live at home. It takes great patience and a lot of encouragement to help restore the abilities and skills that have been lost due to the challenges brought about by aging, stroke, brain injury or surgery. It also requires new ways to adapt daily activities and communication to meet changing needs. Through the process of rehabilitation, a speech pathologist addresses these concerns through individualized treatment programs.
I can envision that between the Molokai General Hospital’s skilled nursing unit and outpatient program, the Molokai Community Health Center, Na Pu`uwai — as well as other resources — a cooperative foundation could be developed on Molokai that would support ongoing speech and language needs for the kupuna and their families.
Last March, I visited Na Pu`uwai’s Adult Day Care Program where I shared my experience in horticultural therapy with staff members. I met with two physical therapists, one of whom is connected to the hospital — and we reviewed the status of a client we had co-treated last November. I visited the home of one of the kupuna — with whom I have been working over the past two years. I also observed the “Tutu and Me” program — children and their families explored Hawaiian culture in a multi-sensory learning environment.
The learning station model of “Tutu and Me” is one that I use in my adult outpatient program in the Portland area, where clients support each other in re-learning skills that were lost due to brain injuries. Through the use of music, “high tech” and “low tech” games, computer-based activities and social interaction, clients and patients can improve their attention, memory and communication abilities. A similar program offered on Molokai, could provide mentoring opportunities for anyone interested in health careers. It could also offer ongoing education, socialization and support for families who struggle with managing the ever-changing and challenging needs of their family members.
Later this month, I plan to attend the Business Institute being held at Kuha`o Business Center. I will offer presentations to the Molokai community concerning speech and language services. I intend to continue learning how to access and coordinate existing resources, building upon the network of care already offered on the island.
I want to thank all the people who have encouraged my work here. Their hospitality, generosity and guidance have been a blessing to me and I look forward to a continued relationship and partnership with them all.