Therapy begins with listening

A five-week practicum at Potter’s Hands soup kitchen showed first-year nursing students that laughter is still great medicine.

Red Deer College student nurses Laci Ethier

A five-week practicum at Potter’s Hands soup kitchen showed first-year nursing students that laughter is still great medicine.

On Wednesday, four Red Deer College students wrapped up their five-week community health project. Guided by the needs of Potter’s Hands clients, they found that stress was the No. 1 issue and talking and listening is an under-estimated treatment.

“A lot of what we did was therapeutic communication, talking and connecting, and that is huge. A lot of people don’t have someone to talk to,” said student Terra Frenzel on Wednesday.

Students performed hand and foot care. But they also encouraged people to laugh, express their creativity, read, play a game, tell a joke — natural ways to relieve stress.

On Tuesday, 16 clients attended an onsite arts and crafts day to make paper maché masks to stretch their creative muscles in a happy way.

Nursing instructor Jaimie Crowe-Swords called it a success.

“It’s a population that has a lot of stress in their lives and I don’t think it’s maybe recognized.

Stress reduction is huge in primary prevention in health care,” Crowe-Swords said.

And while nurses were helping the clients, the clients were also helping the nurses.

“They are increasing our knowledge. It’s an opportunity for the nursing students to be exposed to populations that aren’t right in the forefront. We see these individuals in the hospital. We need to know their stories. We need to know what’s going on,” Crowe-Swords said.

Frenzel said she assumed she would just be meeting addicts at Potter’s Hands. She was wrong.

“It’s such a diverse community. The people that are here are working class. We had so many assumptions coming here and they were blown away.”

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