Physical therapy students assist an elderly woman during a routine health screening

Interprofessional student group provides health screenings for older adults at Bessey Crossing

The front rooms of Bessey Crossing, an affordable, 55-plus living apartment community in Scarborough, were buzzing with activity on Friday, April 7. The sun shone overhead, but instead of taking advantage of the warm spring day, students from four of the University of New England’s health professions programs used the time to meet with residents of Bessey Crossing to provide them with a range of health and wellness screenings.

Students in UNE’s pharmacy and physical therapy programs performed medication reviews, fall and balance assessments, blood pressure, and heart rate evaluations for the residents, while social work and occupational therapy students engaged in conversations about home safety, aging in place, life transitions, and self-care.

“The student teams worked flawlessly together to create an open and inviting space for residents to learn more about their health and ways to enhance their quality of life,” remarked Shelley Cohen Konrad, Ph.D., director of UNE’s Center for Excellence in Collaborative Education. “They also gained a great deal of knowledge about each other’s expertise and what it means to be a smart team.”

The event was also a chance for the students to learn from the residents, as Housna Umutoni (Pharm.D., ’25) discovered.

“The residents of Bessey Crossing trusted us and allowed us to know more about their medications and lifestyle. I learned a lot not only about pharmacy and interprofessional collaboration, but also from older clients’ experiences and their perspectives of life,” Umutoni remarked.

Students perform health screenings for older adults at Bessey Crossing
Students perform health screenings for older adults at Bessey Crossing
Students perform health screenings for older adults at Bessey Crossing
Students perform health screenings for older adults at Bessey Crossing
Students perform health screenings for older adults at Bessey Crossing

Scott Milliken, Ed.D., HDFP, Bessey Crossing’s owner representative, was pleased with the outcome of the interprofessional service-learning pilot project.

“We could not be happier with the work that UNE is doing with our residents in affordable senior housing,” he said. “The work directly benefits our residents, provides field experience for UNE students and staff, and engages all of us in authentic, inter-generational learning. We are most impressed with the professionalism, organization and execution, and compassion of the UNE Team. UNE is always welcome here.”

The residents, too, appreciated time with the students, noting their professionalism and care. Ann Tyler, Bessey Crossing Occupancy manager, observed that residents found the UNE screening to be “informative, helpful, and applicable to their day-to-day activities and wellbeing.”

Ashley Potvin (M.S.W., ’24), said the experience was valuable to have as a student, working with peers from other health professions programs.

"Many of the residents that I did intake with even commented that they enjoyed having the opportunity to learn and discuss their physical, mental, social, and emotional health. Overall, I feel that it was a great experience for me as a student and that the residents at Bessy Crossing also enjoyed and benefitted from their experience,” Potvin stated.

The Bessey Crossing project is a broad collaboration between UNE’s Centers for Excellence in Collaborative Education and Aging and Health (CEAH); the physical and occupational therapy, pharmacy, and social work programs; and Bessey Crossing staff. “The success of the screening day for both residents and students incentivizes us to continue it as an ongoing service to Bessey Crossing,” Cohen Konrad said.