Tag Archives: health

“Inclusion is important, no matter what.” Graduate Seminar on Rural Disability and Health

Dr. Rayna Sage presenting at a conference in May 2017.

Dr. Rayna Sage presenting at a rural-focused workshop in May 2017.

In the Spring 2018 semester, RTC:Rural Research Associate Dr. Rayna Sage, who is also an adjunct instructor in the Sociology department at the University of Montana (UM), taught a graduate-level seminar called “Special Topics in Rural Disability and Health.”

The main course objectives were for students to build important writing skills they can take into their academic and professional lives, primarily through learning how to conduct rapid literature reviews. This involves identifying key pieces of literature related to a specific topic, and then quickly reviewing and organizing the literature for summary.

“The [literature review] process we learned is a time saver because you don’t have to rely on memory or scattered, unorganized articles all over your desktop. Limiting searches with exclusion and inclusion criteria is difficult but necessary because research moves so quickly. It is also necessary to gather information quickly, especially when competing for grant dollars,” said Margaret Perry, a public administration masters student and one of the three graduate students in the seminar. “I wish I had known how to do it sooner.”

Each student completed two rapid literature reviews over the course of the semester. Their topics were chosen based on students’ specific interests, as well as on topics of interest to RTC:Rural and the disability research community. These topics included:

  • Access to food for people with disabilities
  • Health literacy for people with disabilities
  • Rural EMS and disaster preparation
  • Opioid alternatives and treatment
  • Telemedicine in rural places
  • Rural veterans with disabilities

For all three graduate students in the seminar, Dr. Sage’s class was an introduction to disability issues. “I knew next to nothing about disability issues before this class, I was embarrassed by my ignorance! That is partly why I enrolled,” said Perry. “The thing that stands out the most for me after taking this class is that disability issues need more research.”

“I didn’t have any knowledge about disability before the class,” said UM sociology graduate student Lauren Miller. “It came up a few times in my thesis interviews, so it was nice to take the seminar after I had conducted my thesis interviews. It gave me a deeper understanding.” Miller’s graduate thesis looks at disaster preparation on Grand Isle, a small island off the coast of Louisiana.

A group of people in a community park enjoying a picnic. Two of the people are using powerchairs.

RTC:Rural research on community participation and independent living focuses on the resources and accessibility of rural community life for people with disabilities. (Photo from Healthy Community Living www.healthycommunityliving.com).

“When I signed up for Rayna’s course, I was hoping to gain a broader understanding [of disability issues], a bigger perspective of what others are going through. I don’t think about disability experience everyday as a person without a disability. Now I do. I’m more aware now than ever before,” said Miller.

This summer, Miller is working with RTC:Rural and Dr. Sage on the Participation in Rural Events among Young Adults with Disabilities research project. They will continue interviewing young adults with disabilities who live in rural communities to learn about the opportunities and experiences these young adults have with participating in community. Miller’s decision to focus on disability research for the summer was a direct influence of her experience in the seminar. “The class changed how I view city infrastructure. I realized how people with disabilities are so isolated in rural areas,” said Miller. “Inclusion is important, no matter what.”

While Perry, who graduated with her Master’s in Public Administration this semester, will not be going into a disability-focused field, she says the course has broadened her perspective. This summer, she will be starting a new position at the Linda Massa Youth Home in Hamilton, Montana. “I am interested to see how disability is perceived in a new organization. I hope that after this seminar, I can ensure that young people with disabilities are represented in the programs of the Youth Home,” she said.

In the future, Dr. Sage plans to offer the seminar again. ”I think a seminar like this provides emerging professionals across a number of fields the opportunity to think more deeply about disability in their work. I like to tell the students, ‘Once you are aware of how limiting our environment is for people with disabilities, you can’t unlearn it. It’s impossible not to notice the lack of curb cuts or other basic accessibility features.’ I also like that we can go deeper into cultural and social aspects that can sometimes be overshadowed  by concerns about the built environment.”

“I learned so much,” said Miller. “There were so many examples Rayna shared, connecting the literature we read with real life. I recommend the class to anyone who is interested in learning more about the disability experience.”

 

RTC:Rural Researcher Offers Graduate Seminar on Rural Disability and Health

Rayna Sage talking into a microphone

Dr. Rayna Sage, RTC:Rural Research Associate, presenting at the 2017 APRIL conference in Spokane, Washington.

RTC:Rural Research Associate Dr. Rayna Sage, who is also an adjunct instructor in the Sociology department at the University of Montana, is offering a graduate-level seminar for the Spring 2018 semester called “Special Topics in Rural Disability and Health.” In the seminar, students will produce rapid literature reviews on topics of interest to the RTC:Rural.

“The first few weeks we’ll be getting a good foothold in disability literature,” said Dr. Sage. “I want to focus on how interdisciplinary the field is.” Students will learn about disability as an identity and as a product of the environment. They’ll also learn the history of disability rights and the Independent Living Movement, as well as how disability functions in the health care system. There will be an emphasis on experiences in rural America.

The main course objectives are to produce rapid literature reviews on topics that are related to RTC:Rural research interests. After choosing a topic, students will research the existing literature on that topic, and produce reviews of these papers. They will work closely with RTC:Rural Knowledge Translation staff to turn their literature reviews into materials that can be used by service providers, policymakers, advocates, and other researchers. These materials will be published on the RTC:Rural website.

Dr. Sage is excited for students to learn about how disability intersects with other social statuses like race, gender, and class from interdisciplinary perspectives including sociology, geography, public health, psychology, and economics while also assisting students in building important writing skills they can take into their academic and professional lives.

For more information, check out the course description flier:

SOCI 595: Special Topics in Rural Disability and Health

Healthy Community Living now in pilot phase

Healthy Community Living logoHealthy Community Living (HCL), RTC:Rural’s multi-media health promotion program to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities, is excited to be moving into the piloting phase of curriculum development.

RTC:Rural researchers work closely with experienced CIL staff, peer experts in independent living philosophy, and staff from the Association of Programs for Rural Independent Living (APRIL) to develop, test, and refine the HCL curriculums. To learn more about the role of the Development Team and the Participatory Curriculum Development process we used to create the HCL curricula, check out “Consumer interviews add to Participatory Curriculum Development project.”

Development Team

We want to acknowledge the tremendous work and collaboration of our Development Team:

  • Pamala Mondragon and Jamie Hardt from Independence, Inc. in Minot, North Dakota
  • Rich Skerbitz and Liz Amys from North Country Independent Living in Superior, Wisconsin
  • Dustin Gibson in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Brittany Hepler from the Dale McIntosh Center in Anaheim, California
  • Kimberly Heymann from Alliance of People with disAbilities in Seattle, Washington
  • Ken Mitchell, Kim Gibson, and William Daniels from disAbility Link in Tucker, Georgia
  • Dori Tempio from Able South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina
  • Sharon Washington and Christine Cook from Blue Water Center for Independent Living in Port Huron, Michigan

Thank you Development Team, it’s been wonderful to work with you all and we so appreciate all of your time and energy devoted to HCL.

The HCL Development Team and RTC:Rural staff.

The HCL Development Team and RTC:Rural staff at a HCL training in Missoula, Montana.

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Consumer interviews add to Participatory Curriculum Development project

Man sitting in a wheelchair in front of several bikes hanging on the wall, talking and gesturing

Photo of an interview with Joe Stone collected for the Healthy Community Living project – an example of some of the multi-media we are collecting as part of our participatory process to make this curriculum more engaging and useful. You can view the video of the interview below.

Healthy Community Living, one of RTC:Rural’s current projects, is developing a multi-media health promotion program to improve the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities. Have you ever wondered how we work with partners and consumers on a project like this? We call the process “Participatory Curriculum Development” and this blog post gives you an insider view of what that means!

Our project is currently working with eight Centers for Independent Living (CILs) using a Participatory Curriculum Development (PCD) procedure to create and adapt two curricula. The two project development teams consist of experienced CIL staff, peer experts in independent living philosophy, and staff members from the Associated Programs of Rural Independent Living (APRIL) and RTC:Rural.

While multi-media is a good way to represent and enhance the concepts and ideas in the content, it must also be interesting and engaging for the program user.  However, there are not many photos, videos and other media that accurately represent people with disabilities in real life settings. To overcome and change this, the development teams are using the PCD process to access existing media, create new media themselves, and engage CIL consumers in the process. This means that the content created for Healthy Community Living truly represents Real People in Real Places.

Although finding or creating media may sound simple in the age of the internet and digital technology, the process for creating multi-media content is a bit more challenging than one might think. The first step is to outline content for each curriculum. This includes identifying areas within the curriculum where multi-media presentations can enhance the content and make it more interesting and engaging.

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Living Well with a Disability Program featured in national webinar on Building Inclusive Programs

On July 18, 2017, staff from RTC:Rural presented at the webinar “Building Inclusive Programs to Serve Adults with Disabilities,” hosted by the National Council on Aging Center for Healthy Aging. The webinar was well attended, with 320 participants from around the country. The webinar was recorded; click here to view the video or download presentation slides.

RTC:Rural Knowledge Translation Director Tracy Boehm Barrett and Montana Disability and Health Program Director Meg Ann Traci provided an overview of our successful Living Well with a Disability (LWD) program including its research and development history, and how it has been expanded and sustained over the years, which has been largely influenced by consumer and service provider input.

A group of seven people, three sitting in wheelchairs, at a workshop outside around a tableLWD is an evidence-based, peer-led health promotion and self-management program for adults with disabilities, recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  It focuses on developing a healthy and balanced lifestyle as a vehicle to reach individual quality-of-life goals.

To date, our program has trained 1,218 Living Well with a Disability workshop facilitators, representing nearly 300 community agencies in 46 states.  Nearly 10,000 individuals with disabilities have been served through the Living Well with a Disability program.

In addition to the presentation on the development, implementation, and successes of LWD, the webinar featured a third presenter, Karl Cooper, Esq. of the American Association on Health and Disability. Mr. Cooper provided an overview of the health and disability landscape in the United States. Helpful resources and strategies for ensuring evidence-based programs are accessible for all were also featured.

“We were very pleased to be invited to participate in this webinar and share its historical research and development,” says Tracy Boehm Barrett. “Living Well has been a launch pad program to engage people with disabilities in self-management of their health in a way that recognizes the unique barriers and secondary health conditions that people with disabilities experience.  In the spirit of building inclusive communities, providing the tools and resources for managing one’s health and well-being is essential to ensuring community participation by all. We want to thank the Center for Health Aging for inviting us to present!” Continue reading

RTC:Rural “Health My Way” App being designed to increase health and wellness for people in rural communities

App icon for RTC:Rural's "Health My Way" app, which is currently under development

App icon for RTC:Rural’s “Health My Way” app, which is currently under development

One of RTC:Rural’s current projects aims to develop and test a new health-related app called “Health My Way.”

The app is being produced as part of the Ecological Decision Support for Health Promotion project led by project manager Tannis Hargrove, M.S.  The app provides a solution for individuals who live in rural areas and are unable to participate in group workshops on healthy living due to limited transportation or lack of other resources.

The idea and content for the app came from two of RTC:Rural’s previous projects. The first, Living Well With a Disability (LWD), is a health-promotion program that helps participants set and reach quality-of-life goals by developing a healthy lifestyle. The LWD program especially aims to help participants manage secondary health conditions. LWD is a 10- to 12-week program facilitated by a trained workshop facilitator who leads weekly meetings for the group.

The second project, Consumer Self-Managed Use of Rural Healthcare Services (CASM), helped participants connect to available healthcare services in their communities. CASM used some of the goal-setting and health-management content from the LWD program and addressed how to overcome specific barriers to using those resources.

“Health My Way” was developed to provide an alternative for those individuals who could not participate in the LWD program due to logistical or personal challenges.  This tool is especially important for those living in rural communities where the cost and accessibility of transportation can be substantial barriers to participation. The app is meant to be completed one-on-one with a staff member from a local Center for Independent Living, which involves more flexibility in location and time than is afforded by the LWD group meetings. Continue reading

Healthy People 2020 to highlight RTC:Rural Program

square photos of a target with arrows, a collage of question mariks, a person smiling, raindrops on a window, hands of several people stacked on top of one another, a stack of books, a man swimming laps in pool, fruits and vegetables, a bullhorn, tools in a toolbox.

Living Well with a Disability Logo

Living Well with a Disability, a health promotion program developed by RTC: Rural over 25 years of continued research and development, will be highlighted as a successful, community-based program in an upcoming Healthy People 2020 webinar sponsored by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. The webinar: Progress Review on Improving Health Outcomes through Inclusion and Participation, August 11th, 12:30-2pm, will highlight how public health efforts are improving inclusion, participation, and health-related quality of life and well-being for Americans with and without disabilities.

In her presentation to talk about the Montana Disability and Health Program (MTDH) as “a community-based initiative with a proven track record of improving health outcomes,” MTDH Director at UM’s Rural Institute for Community Inclusion, Meg Ann Traci, Ph.D.,  will be highlighting the long line of research and development of the Living Well with a Disability health promotion program, MTDH’s integrative and collaborative work with DPHHS and other community stakeholders, as well as the continued development of Living Well with a Disability at RTC:Rural with current funding from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research.

 

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