linkAges Launches in Santa Cruz

We’re delighted to announce the expansion of linkAges, our neighborhood service-exchange network, into Santa Cruz! The linkAges team has been busy meeting with local community organizations, city officials and community members to spread the word about linkAges and adapt the program to the city’s unique culture. We’ve been inspired by the Santa Cruz community’s positive response to the program and look forward to helping create meaningful social connections across the city.

Santa Cruz Tech Day participantsWe kicked off linkAges member recruitment at our Tech Day for Older Adults event at Live Oak Senior Center on December 5, 2015. More than 30 seniors attended the event, met new people and received helpful tips for using their tech devices. Attendees surprised our team by bringing snacks for everyone to munch on throughout the day. We were thrilled to be welcomed so warmly.

One attendee, Cindy, learned how to use Skype so she can chat withcindy getting help with skype her friends in France. Others learned how to get the most out of their iPads and smartphones from tech-savvy volunteers like Elaine, a history professor at University of California, Santa Cruz. Local community members, linkAges members, and linkAges staff volunteered to teach technology skills, and many friendships formed between the older adults and volunteers.

Since Tech Day, we have also hosted several linkAges orientations at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History to introduce local community members to the benefits of linkAges and help them sign up.

Thank you to the Live Oak Senior Center and Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History for their generous support and donation of space.

Upcoming linkAges Events

We’ll be hosting more exciting events in Santa Cruz in the upcoming months. If you or someone you know in Santa Cruz would like to join linkAges, go to http://www.linkages.org, click “Sign Up” in the top right corner and use the code sccommunity. Check out our Facebook page for news about upcoming events.

 

Meet Erica Gibson: Our New Medical Ethnographer

Erica Gibson, Ph.D., recently joined the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Innovation Center team as the new medical ethnographer. In this blog post, she explains what a medical ethnographer does and her new role at the Innovation Center – and with the linkAges Timebank community.

Erica GibsonHi, I’m Erica. I recently moved to California from Florida and I am enjoying exploring my new community while working with a great team as the Innovation Center’s new medical ethnographer.  I received a Ph.D. in medical anthropology from the University of Alabama in 2007 and I have been working as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women’s and Gender Studies for the past six years.  My previous ethnographic experience includes cross-cultural studies on pregnancy and birth in the Southern U.S., Mexico, and Italy, and clinical and chronic pain studies in communities in Florida.

Ethnography is an on-the-ground method of learning about the social and cultural life of communities and individuals, with an emphasis on the perspectives of the people.  Medical ethnography allows us to understand behaviors that impact people’s wellness. This helps the team to design innovations that can improve health at both the individual and community levels. The Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation at Palo Alto Medical Foundation is dedicated to working in-depth with the local community, and many of our team members already do this.  As the medical ethnographer, I am working with community members to better understand the experiences of older adults and caregivers in the challenges that they face affecting their health and well-being.

Through participant observation, I can explore what community members are experiencing on an individual level, both as someone performing an activity, as well as through watching and learning.  For instance, in order to meet community members and learn first-hand about linkAges, I became a member of the linkAges TimeBank.  Upon learning that time banks often receive more offers than requests, I decided to post a request, rather than an offer for my first exchange.  The idea behind this is that people don’t want to ask for help; however they are very happy to offer help. In order to engage with the other TimeBank members quickly, I asked for help with a task that was intimidating to me but could probably be easily accomplished by someone in the TimeBank with the right skill set.  I requested help in sprucing up my cubicle. Two TimeBank members responded within days and I recently completed my first exchange with TimeBank member Judy Ott!  Judy helped me create an inviting work space by sharing her design expertise.  This exchange resulted in a positive change to my work space, but it also allowed me to understand exactly what is involved in a TimeBank experience from a participant’s perspective.  Also I had a great time just chatting with Judy and learning about fun things to do in and around the Bay Area!

Part of my time will be spent out in the community, getting to know TimeBank members and learning about how we can better serve them through linkAges programs.  You may see me at local events such as TimeBank Tales, orientation sessions, Meet and Move walks, or posting offers and requests on the TimeBank website.  Please feel free to come up and say hello, especially if you are interested in helping our team by speaking with me about your experiences with linkAges programs. You can also send me an email at gibsone@pamf.org if you would like to know more about what I do and how you can help make linkAges better for everyone.

linkAges TimeBank Expands into Community: Adds new Advocates

linkAges Advocates
linkAges Advocates

As linkAges expands in 2015, it will now be available as a community resource to all Palo Alto Medical Foundation patients. To support this expansion, four college students joined the Innovation Center team as the newest cohort of linkAges Advocates!

This second group of Advocates, from Santa Clara University, comes aboard after last summer’s pilot internship program, and their primary focus will be to engage our patient population with using linkAges as a community resource to support well-being. The Advocates will support linkAges TimeBank members by showing them various features of the TimeBank, facilitating exchanges, and suggesting offers and requests based on the member’s interests and needs. They will also be providing technology help at the Sunnyvale and Mountain View Senior Centers in response to last summer’s overwhelmingly positive feedback from the older adults who participated in tech help sessions.

Last weekend, the Advocates participated in an extensive training with healthcare professionals and community leaders. They learned about motivational interviewing and how to effectively communicate with older adults. In one of the sessions on technology training for seniors, the moderator had them wear special glasses and insert cotton balls in their ears to simulate physical limitations and teach them about the challenges many seniors face as they go about their daily life. The Advocates also role-played various enrollment scenarios and engaged in mock service-exchanges to get familiar with the linkAges TimeBank.

The Advocates will be stationed at the Community Health Resource Centers (CHRC) at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation clinics in Mountain View and Palo Alto where they will support enrollment of patients in the linkAges TimeBank and help new members create personalized linkAges plans. Individuals use these plans to set goals and optimize their use and experience of the linkAges system, with the Advocates available for assistance at every step of the way. Meanwhile, physicians are referring patients they think could benefit from becoming a member of the TimeBank. insert These include newly relocated community members, patients interested in increasing their connections to their community through service exchanges, seniors and family caregivers.

Stop by the CHRCs to meet the Advocates and learn more about the exciting work they’re doing in the community! You can find them at the Mountain View location every Monday from 1:30-4:30 PM and at the Palo Alto location every first and third Tuesday from 9:00-11:30 AM, as well as every second and fourth Monday from 1:30-4:30 PM.