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Juniata Sociologist Speaks on Nursing Home PEER Experience

(Posted April 11, 2011)

Susan Radis, professor of sociology and social work

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- Susan Radis, professor of sociology and social work at Juniata College, will give a talk on her experiences in helping nursing home residents become advocates for their care. The lecture, "Is There Life after Youth? The PEER Program," is at 4:30 p.m., Wednesday, April 20, in Neff Lecture Hall in the von Liebig Center for Science.

The talk is free and open to the public. The Bookend Lectures series features afternoon lectures each month by Juniata College faculty.

Radis will describe her experience during a 2010 spring-semester sabbatical working with the Centre County Office of Aging. She spent the time implementing the Pennsylvania Empowered Expert Residents program in five long-term care facilities in Centre County. The PEER program trains the residents in long-term care facilities to become advocates within their facilities and work with staff and other residents to improve the quality of care and the quality of life for peers.

She will describe how the program reaffirmed her belief that nursing home residents can be empowered to act for themselves and stay productive and involved within their community. She also will address how her experience enriched her teaching and gave her vibrant examples of positive perspectives on aging -- which in turn may inspire students to consider careers working with the nation's growing aging population.

"(The PEER advocates) provide wonderful role models for their peers living in long term care facilities, for their families and for me as we tackle the challenges and blessings of life as we grow older," Radis says of the residents she worked with.

Radis will describe her experience during a 2010 spring-semester sabbatical working with the Centre County Office of Aging, implementing the Pennsylvania Empowered Expert Residents program in five long-term care facilities in Centre County.

Radis joined the Juniata faculty in 1984 as an assistant professor of social work. She was promoted to associate professor in 1989 and was promoted to full professor in 1995. She came to Juniata from Penn State University, where she was an assistant professor of social work from 1978 to 1984. She also was an assistant professor of social work at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks N.D. from 1973 to 1978.

She also worked as a caseworker in Philadelphia County for its Board of Assistance from 1969 to 1971. She earned a bachelor's degree in rehabilitation education in 1969 from Penn State University and went on to earn a master's degree in social work in 1973 from Bryn Mawr College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.

She is active in her communities in Centre and Huntingdon counties. She has worked as a facilitator in child abuse prevention for two Huntingdon County Parents Helping Parents groups and has taught parenting classes for Parent to Parent magic. She is a licensed social worker in Pennsylvania and is a member of the National Association of Social Workers and the Academy of Certified Social Workers.

Contact John Wall at wallj@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3132 for more information.