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BSC Nursing Students Discover “E-FISH-IENT” Way to Provide Pet Therapy for Residents at the Maples (w/photo)

  • Created
    Wednesday, April 08 2009
  • Created by
    Jim Nelson/Media Relations - (304) 327-4103


Bluefield State College Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students senior Erica Bailey (left) and Billy Clay recently presented a 55-gallon aquarium to The Maples.  The BSC students developed the aquarium as an innovative approach to “pet therapy” for residents at The Maples.  Community “change projects” of this type are designed to improve a targeted population’s quality of life and are a part of the BSN program’s senior practicum course.

(Bluefield)—Residents at The Maples in Bluefield have a new “big screen” entertainment system--a 55-gallon aquarium—courtesy of two energetic and innovative students in Bluefield State College’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.  To fulfill a course requirement, senior BSN students Erica Bailey and Billy Clay conducted a needs assessment for a “change project” that could improve the quality of life at The Maples, then decided upon the aquarium as a unique type of “pet therapy.”

“We conducted quite a bit of research into pet therapy programs,” Clay, an Oceana High School graduate, said.  “Pet therapy helps increase residents’ receptivity to socializing, and it combats feelings of loneliness and depression.”

“The aquarium gives residents a colorful, uplifting point of focus,” added Bailey, a graduate of Iaeger High School.  “It can help decrease their blood pressure, relieve stress, and it’s a low risk, low maintenance resource.”

The BSC students are part of a senior BSN cohort involved in community projects, as a requirement in the program’s senior practicum course, according to program director Beth Pritchett.  “Students are involved in a variety of projects, all of which are designed to improve a targeted population’s quality of life,” she noted.  “They conduct an assessment of need, then implement change to address that need.  The process requires students to utilize all of the knowledge and skills they’ve acquired throughout their BSN program experience.”

Bailey and Clay, who purchased the aquarium, expressed appreciation to Personal Touch Fish Store, the Healing Hands Club at BSC, local attorney Mark Wills, and anonymous donors for their support of the project.

Residents at The Maples attended a brief “unveiling ceremony” recently, when they saw the aquarium for the first time.  It is located adjacent to the central dining area, in a portion of the facility that’s frequented by residents and guests throughout the day.

The aquarium has generated quite a bit of positive response, according to Drema Keaton, The Maples’ activities director.  “The residents love it,” she said.  “Some have already given names to the goldfish.  It’s a positive, fun activity and it gives them a feeling of ‘being connected.’”