linkAges Advocates complete spring internship!

After a six-month internship period, our latest group of linkAges Advocates concluded their internship at the David Druker Center for Health Systems Innovation (the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s innovation center) in June.

The Innovation Center welcomed these four linkAges Advocates, in January 2015 and they were selected for their passion and interest to support healthy aging in the community.


From left to right: Stefanie Kong, Elena Haight, Dominic Boccaccio (Advocates Program Coordinator), Margret Mendenhall and Stacey Urauchi

Though all four Advocates attended Santa Clara University, they had different reasons for wanting to join the linkAges team:

Stefanie Kong’s close relationship with her grandmother helped her realize the importance of social connections in promoting a high quality of life for older adults. She saw the internship as an opportunity for an “infusion of youth” into the lives of seniors, and vice versa.

Elena Haight understood the role of mental health in overall well-being, and wanted to explore a more holistic view of health outside of the clinic.

Margret Mendenhall wanted to play an active role in the expansion of resources for aging baby boomers, leveraging technology to bring families closer together.

As a public health major, Stacey Urauchi learned about the booming senior population and saw this as an opportune time to get involved as healthcare evolves and shifts.

At the start of their internship, they went through an intensive two-day training session. Training modules ranged from motivational interviewing, to program logistics, with in-depth preparation for situations around privacy, effective communication with seniors, and teaching technology. Through the course of the internship program they drew upon these skills to empower their work and inform their outreach strategies.

The Advocates spent a considerable amount of time at local community sites, including the Mountain View Senior Center and the Sunnyvale Senior Center, to provide one-on-one technology assistance to older adults.



These experiences were incredibly rewarding to the Advocates because, as they pointed out, few college students have the opportunity to interact with seniors on a regular basis.

The Advocates also helped spread the word to patients and community about the linkAges TimeBank Program when visiting the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s Mountain View and Palo Alto Centers. Through partnership with PAMF”s Community Health Resource Centers, they coordinated outreach for interested patients and staff.

Another important piece of the linkAges Advocates internship program is that interns are asked to develop a self-guided personal project. This cohort of Advocates decided to initiate outreach to the Santa Clara community, an area of expansion for the TimeBank with only a handful of existing members. They contacted student groups at Santa Clara University, faith-based groups, community leaders, and local healthcare providers. Their project concluded with a community event at The Forge Garden. Fifteen people attended the event and got their hands dirty while learning about sustainable gardening – and were able to learn more about the linkAges TimeBank too!

Thank you and well wishes to this group of linkAges Advocates and thank you for your service during your internship!

This group of Advocates made monumental impact for good, both on the internship program and the community. They helped older adults through home visits, technology assistance, and other TimeBank exchanges. They learned about health outside of the clinic during a monthly speaker series, and they had the opportunity to take a significant role in program deployment strategies. And, they did it all with passion, maturity, skill, and innovation. We’re going to miss them, but wish them the best on their continued career paths to make a difference in the health and well being of local communities.


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.