Service Learning Internships

A Helping Hand (AHH), a nonprofit serving seniors and adults with disabilities, hosts a Service Learning Internship Program for college students and graduates interested in psychology, healthcare-related or Social Work careers. Our recent class of Service Learning Interns logged nearly 6,000 hours of service to older adults, assisting with transportation and providing care in the home setting.

Former AHH interns have successfully launched careers as physicians, nurses, social workers, occupational or physical therapists and public health professionals. Others currently are enrolled at top-ranked schools including Duke University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, UNC-CH and Wake Forest University.

Interns gain direct geriatric care experience, develop strong interpersonal and leadership skills and work with a diverse client base. They assist clients with a wide range of issues including impaired vision or hearing, limited mobility, and cognitive losses. Interns also will become familiar with conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease and more. Participants may also assist younger adults who are disabled due to multiple sclerosis, recent surgery or an automobile accident. Interns learn about family dynamics, the role of the family caregiver, and social isolation. Individuals also will have the chance to accompany clients to medical appointments, understand the importance of the patient/provider relationship and learn how to advocate for a patient.

A Helping Hand’s Service Learning Interns will have the opportunity to:

Gain Direct Care Experience

  • Engage clients in intellectually stimulating activities.
  • Provide escorted transportation to appointments.
  • Provide assistance with grocery shopping.
  • Assist the visually impaired with reading, correspondence and home organization.
  • Run errands that would be challenging for someone with reduced mobility.
  • Plan and prepare basic meals.
  • Accompany clients to social, community and/or religious activities.
  • Provide respite care so a tired family caregiver can take time to attend to his or her own needs.

Receive Valuable Training

  • General Orientation: focuses on strengthening skills for working with older adults and disabled individuals. Topics that will be covered include effective communication, sensitivity to client needs, adherence to policy, establishing healthy boundaries with clients, emergency procedures, confidentiality and tips for successful visits.
  • Sensitivity Awareness Training: discusses how the changes of aging affect clients’ physical and psychological wellbeing. Props and demonstrations make this training interactive and hands-on.
  • Dementia Training: offers understanding of cognitive deficiencies and how to effectively communicate both with clients who have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia and family caregivers.
  • Patient Advocacy Training: learn how to become an advocate and hear about Advance Care Directives.

Supplemental trainings vary, but may include depression, proper nutrition and fitness, demonstration of adaptive devices for the visually and mobility impaired, as well as first aid and CPR techniques.

Internship Components and Requirements:

Interact with Agency Professionals

Our training sessions and meetings with partners and providers in the community enable interns to have face-to-face contact and networking opportunities with professionals from an array of disciplines.

Throughout the internship participants will be made aware of a variety of community trainings and meetings. Interns are required to attend at least 3 community events throughout the internship. During these meetings, participants will be aware that they are representing A Helping Hand and will arrive on time, dressed appropriately and are encourage to participate.

Work in Different Settings

A Helping Hand’s Interns also have the opportunity to work with our community partners to gain experience working in a variety of care settings. Currently, interns may work at Charles House Eldercare Center, an adult day care center in Carrboro and/or at Spring Arbor in Durham. Alternate sites are also available for gaining valuable experience.

Reflect on Your Experience

All interns are required to submit a three to five page reflection paper by the end of the internship, about how the internship affected their perceptions about older adults, as well as any impact the experience may have made on their career path. Specific examples regarding the intern experience will be an integral part of this submission.

Companion Care Requirements

A Helping Hand is a respected service-learning site that hosts internships year-round. We work with interns who may apply to receive course credit from a variety of schools and departments for both health and non health-related careers. It is the responsibility of the student to initiate the process for course credit.

Our Service Learning Internship Program is an unpaid internship that requires a commitment to 90 hours of direct care experience. Most interns will serve approximately 8 – 10 hours per week, during the semester, with flexibility for school holidays.

Intern assignments will involve working with client in our charitable program and providing respite for full-time family caregivers. Interns may choose to volunteer beyond the minimum requirements or and can request work with clients in our private pay program and receive a stipend of $8.00 per hour. Employment in the private pay program is not guaranteed and is subject to the availability of assignments.

Interns will receive mileage reimbursement at the current IRS rates for transporting a client or doing an errand on the client’s behalf. Please note that interns are not reimbursed for mileage or credited for time commuting to or from the assignment.

Important: A car is required in order to participate in the pre-health service learning internship. 

Scheduled Client Hours

Each intern will be placed with a variety of client assignments by our program-scheduling department.  Matches are made based upon common interests, character traits, proximity, availability and additional information, so that interns have a broad spectrum of experiences with Senior Citizens of the Triangle. Any questions regarding placements with clients should be addressed with our program directors.

For more information please contact the internship coordinator, Steffi Tornow @ steffi.tornow@ahelpinghandnc.org