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Walk a Mile in their Shoes Project

Walk A Mile

Crystal Bastress spent 72 hours living at The Village at Sprenkle Drive in York, PA, to more fully understand the opportunities and challenges residents in a skilled nursing facility face. Her experience was part of an ethnographic study, "Walking a Mile in Their Shoes: An Ethnographic Exploration of Life in a Nursing Home," which was conducted by Kelly Niles-Yokum, assistant professor of gerontology.

"During the summer of 2011, I was given a priceless gift: an opportunity to gain a new perspective on the life of a resident living in a nursing home, relying completely on the staff for many activities of daily living," said Bastress. "I was admitted to a local nursing home, and for the next three days I ate soft and pureed foods. I had casts on my right arm and left leg, so I felt the restricted mobility of being confined to a wheelchair. I attended physical therapy sessions and participated in activities alongside the residents. I went through many emotions in the short period of time I was there. The insight, knowledge and perspective that I gained through this experience could not be replaced nor could it be relived."

Niles-Yokum maintained contact with Bastress, reviewing her journal entries and monitoring her experiences. The data collected from Bastress's journal was analyzed and categorized into themes, revealing key impressions and experiences. The themes were presented back to The Village at Sprenkle Drive staff to help them improve practices and streamline processes. Bastress and Niles-Yokum also presented on their study during the Southern Gerontological Society Conference in Nashville, TN, in April.