Georgetown – Second-year occupational therapy assistant (OTA) students from Delaware Technical & Community College, Owens Campus volunteered at a CarFit event for drivers 65 or older at Beebe Health Campus in Rehoboth Beach on Saturday, March 27.
According to its Web site, CarFit is an educational program created by the American Society on Aging and developed in collaboration with the American Automobile Association (AAA), AARP and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).
This particular CarFit event was sponsored by Beebe Medical Center, AARP and the Moss Rehab Driving Progam.
Representatives from Beebe Medical Center, AARP, Moss Rehab Driving Program, the American Occupational Therapy Association and Delaware Tech students were present.
“We look at twelve different safety points when we are at the CarFit event, trying to help people better understand how to attain the best personal fit that they can for their vehicle,” said Elin Schold Davis, project coordinator of the older driver initiative for AOTA.
“Being able to make our older citizens safer on the road was part of the inspiration for bringing this event here,” said Alice Workman, OTR-L, event coordinator and Beebe Medical Center occupational therapist.
Jim Devone, of AARP, pointed out that this was the first CarFit to be held in Sussex County.
The Delaware Tech OTA students attended two training sessions before the event to learn about CarFit and how to correctly adjust items in order to make cars safer and more comfortable.
“I learned how to eliminate blind spots by adjusting mirrors,” said Debbie Hearn of Bethel.
“The airbag should not be pointed towards a person’s face but rather towards their chest; the person also should be ten inches away from their steering week,” explained Monica Milken from Seaford.
John Gonzales, of Milford, pointed out that in addition to making sure the person is properly positioned in the car and the car is in working order, there is adaptive equipment which facilitates driving such as a device that makes it easier to get out of a car.
Brittany Joseph completed her training the week of the event and is now a certified CarFit event coordinator which enables her to manage events and train technicians to assist at those events.
“I wanted to become an event coordinator and participant in the CarFit event because it was a great opportunity to work hands-on with the senior public as well as AARP and AAA volunteers,” said Joseph, of Laurel. “I feel as if CarFit is a great resource for the senior population who may have questions or concerns about their safety in their vehicles and I’m happy to help educate them.”
“I was very impressed by the student’s willingness to volunteer in the community,” said Nancy Broadhurst, occupational therapy assistant instructor at Delaware Tech. “This event allowed them to be a part of a multiagency team supporting a primary occupation of seniors.”
“It was fabulous having the senior OTA students with us; we find that they are just outstanding,” said Workman.
Workman was very pleased that she and her coworkers at Beebe were able to provide the Delaware Tech OTA students with their first continuing education course.
“Now they have skills that they can offer to future employers because they were able to attend the CarFit seminar,” added Workman.
“This event was also a good way to kick off National Occupational Therapy Month,” said Broadhurst.
Occupational Therapy Month in April recognizes the importance of occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants and students in practice, education, research and science.
Caption: Workers and volunteers at the CarFit event pose for a picture. (l to r) Jennifer Guerin, occupational therapist at Beebe; Jose Casas, AARP representative; Natalie Heller, certified occupational therapy assistant at Beebe and Delaware Tech graduate; Andrea Puglia, occupational therapist at Beebe; Delaware Tech OTA students Brittany Joseph and John Gonzales; Jim Devone, AARP; and Nancy Broadhurst, Delaware Tech instructor.