Creating bonds everlasting

NHVP allows students and residents to form a close, family bond


photo courtesy of the Delavan Health Services Facebook

Residents and student volunteers spent the night gardening and potting plants together at Delevan Health Services last spring. NHVP continues to visit homes like Delevan’s and others around the Whitewater area this semester, with the addition of the Oak Park Place in Janesville this year.

Katelyn Black, Lifestyle Editor

The Nursing Home Visitation Program is a program created by UW-Whitewater Psychology Professor, Dr. Clifford O’Beirne at the request of a student 44 years ago this year.

The program consists of multiple groups visiting the different nursing homes around the area – including homes all the way from Janesville to Delavan.

And while the program certainly makes a difference to the residents – especially those who don’t really get a lot of visitors otherwise – it’s just as important to the students doing the visiting.

Junior and Milton Senior Living coordinator, Aimee Bichler started her freshman year and simply fell in love with the program.

The program, according to Bichler, has always helped to turn her day around.

“Visiting with the residents makes my day and helps me forget about the bad day I had,” said Bichler.

“The residents are always there to make you smile and cheer you up. Visiting with the residents is like having another set of grandparents at school.”

But the program also goes beyond the emotional day-to-day benefits of the program.

According to Dr. O’Beirne, some students even make major life changes because of their time with the program.

“Students get so much out of it, and at first I didn’t realize that, but I thought it would be nice for them,” said O’Beirne. “What I didn’t realize is sometimes they’ll even change their major, their career or their emphasis.”

O’Beirne has seen this effect first hand during his time in the community and occasionally runs into past students who share their stories of confidence and life changes.

But it was truly junior and NHVP coordinator that summed up the long-term effect of the program for students  in so few words.

“I personally believe that NHVP is amazing because of the impact this program has not only on the residents of the nursing homes we visit,” said Cohen. “But also the everlasting impact it has on the students.”