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Authors

  1. Long, Elizabeth M. DNP, APRN, GNP-BC, CNS
  2. Knight, Stacey L. DNP, RN, CNE

Abstract

Compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, both loneliness and isolation are a growing concern for the older adult population. An intergenerational holistic exchange, Cardinals CARE (Cardinals, Adopt, Residents for Engagement), was developed as a way to connect older adults in long-term care facilities (LTCFs) with nursing students while demonstrating the meeting of student service learning outcomes. Students shared correspondence with residents in LTCFs for a 10-week period, sending mail weekly in the form of letters, artwork, crafts, an appropriate joke, or anything to encourage engagement. Jean Watson's Theory of Transpersonal Caring was used as a framework for the project. Students (n = 109) participating in the program provided interaction with 734 residents in 11 LTCFs in 3 counties. Students utilized reflective journaling to demonstrate the meeting of service learning outcomes and described the power of connection and the opportunity to provide holistic care. A result of the project was the intergenerational connectedness showcasing the reciprocal nature of the CARE project. Further research is needed to build an evidence base for the use of such interaction to promote connection and combat loneliness.