Faculty, students and nuns collaborate on integrated older adult wellness model

Benet Hill Monastery is a Benedictine monastic (a Catholic, faith-based) community of twenty-one religious women living in Colorado Springs. Because of their lifestyle, the nun community of Benet Hill Monastery provided UCCS students a unique interprofessional clinical education experience and collaborative opportunity.

A multidisciplinary team of UCCS faculty and students from the UCCS Aging Center, LAS-Psychology and Social work programs, the UCCS Gerontology Center, and JBEL Health Sciences and Nursing Departments collaborated with Benet Hill Monastery on this project.

Individual assessments of each sister were conducted to understand their strengths and challenges related to their physical, emotional and cognitive health and wellbeing. Following completion of all assessments, an interprofessional team of faculty and students will review these findings and develop an individualized wellness plan for each sister.

Their plans include integrated recommendations for promoting physical, cognitive and mental health wellness. Tips include specific behavioral strategies to reduce risks for new or exacerbations in existing medical conditions. Students will later deliver in-person programs designed to address specific health and wellness educational needs identified in the earlier assessments.

Moving forward, the sisters of the monastery are collaborating in developing an integrated older adult wellness model as part of their mission to model “eldering.”

Sister Marie Therese “MT” Summers OSB, Prioress, explains, “Eldering is about changing your perspective so you can experience growing older in a way that allows you to have the rest of your life be the best of your life – filled with love, health, happiness, and creative self-expression. It’s about living fully to the end.”

Additionally, data obtained from the community will be used to further develop, present and publish the older adult wellness model and clinical educational experience.

Funding was provided by a grant from Support Our Aging Religious, Inc. (SOAR!) to Benet Hill Monastery which will support the coordination of continued interprofessional assessments and research by the UCCS Gerontology Center. SOAR! was founded by a group of Catholic and non-Catholic lay people responding to a report on the economic crisis facing aging religious men and women in the United States. Today, grants from SOAR! help ensure the safety, comfort and dignity of aging religious when faced with changing health and wellness needs.

About Benet Hill Monastery

Benet Hill Monastery is a contemporary Benedictine monastic presence located at 3190 Benet Lane, Colorado Springs, CO  80921 and globally at https://www.benethillmonastery.org.

About the Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences

The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences has trained and educated the region’s health professionals and human performance professionals for over 118 years, and in 2022, celebrated 25 years with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs (UCCS).

At Johnson Beth-El, students meet the needs of a rapidly changing health care landscape by providing innovative, nationally accredited, and ranked programs.

Johnson Beth-El’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The Clinical Simulation Learning Center is accredited by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare (SSH). The Master’s of Science in Nutrition and Dietetics is the first Future Education Model (FEM) registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) program in Colorado and accredited by ACEND. The Doctor of Physical Therapy program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education (CAPTE). The Master of Science in Athletic Training (MSAT) became the first graduate athletic training program in Colorado when it was awarded CAATE accreditation in Spring 2020.

Our traditional Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) program is ranked nationally by US News and World Report. The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences ranks #67 out of 681 national nursing programs. The Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences is consistently ranked as a US News and World Report’s Top online Master’s in Nursing program for veterans. In 2023, we ranked #1 in the state of Colorado for veterans. Learn more about the Johnson Beth-El at johnsonbethel.uccs.edu.