Oakland University
Friday, January 30, 2015

Nursing students practice holistic healthcare at new day center for homeless

Dr. Judith Fouladbakhsh (center) celebrates 10 years of her community outreach program, Holistic Healthcare for the Homeless, giving nursing students clinical practice while providing a much-needed service. 
by Kelli M. Titus

Holistic Healthcare for the Homeless, created by an Oakland University School of Nursing professor, celebrates a decade of service with the opening of a day center program in Oakland County.

Ten years ago, Dr. Judith Fouladbakhsh created Holistic Healthcare for the Homeless, a student program designed as a nursing clinical practice site. She implemented this program by taking RN-BSN students to homeless shelters to assist in health assessments on patients. Now, the Oakland University associate professor brings her holistic knowledge and nursing practice to OU’s School of Nursing.

“The School of Nursing at Oakland University has a long history of incorporating holistic (mind-body-spirit) philosophy into nursing education, clinical practice and research,” Dr. Fouladbakhsh said. “The holistic and caring perspective threaded throughout the nursing program also prepares students with a strong sense of community service, ability to address the needs of vulnerable populations, and an openness to new learning.”

Safe Haven

The Welcome Inn Day Center is a mission of the South Oakland Citizens for the Homeless (SOCH), and opened its doors in Royal Oak this winter to provide a warm refuge for homeless men and women. The center provides food, clothes, showers, medical attention, social services, holistic care, and more from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. five days a week. Welcome Inn also provides transportation to nighttime shelter services offered by volunteers from area churches. Above all, the facility allows guests to find solace in a place that is truly "welcoming.”

“When you have nowhere else to go, this place is like heaven,” said Diane, a guest of the center.

As winter’s dangerous wind chills bring subzero temperatures to Oakland County, a growing number of individuals are congregating into the center. More than 90 guests utilized the Welcome Inn within the first few weeks of January.

"When the weather gets this cold, we see a huge increase in guests needing food, shelter, warm clothing and medical attention," said Martha Herbert, associate director of SOCH's Welcome Inn Day Center. "We are a donation-based organization, so we are always in need of supplies. It's also important for us to have social work and nursing volunteers to provide basic mental and physical care for the guest."

Healing Touch

Volunteers are in high demand, and with the ever-growing caseload of cold-weather injuries, nurses are essential.

Dr. Fouladbakhsh has been volunteering with SOCH for a decade. Along with her background in public health, she holds advanced practice certifications in community health and holistic nursing, and is a certified healing touch and Reiki practitioner. Dr. Fouladbakhsh uses her experience and resources to promote SOCH’s efforts with an educational approach.

“SOCH, as a grassroots organization, was created by concerned community residents witnessing the devastating effects of homelessness ‘at their front door,’” Dr. Fouladbakhsh said. “I strongly feel that (student) participation in the Holistic Healthcare for the Homeless program will benefit both the guests facing complex health and social issues, and the students whose lives and clinical practice can be enriched by this experience.”

Oakland nursing instructor Janith Beres says she will start bringing her students from Health Promotion II to the Welcome Inn to talk to guests, learn their stories and promote healthy living. Beres, along with fellow SON faculty member Kathleen Spencer, plan on sharing their own nursing expertise by giving health assessments and check-ups on a weekly basis.

“Volunteering, taking the time to give to others, and hearing the stories of those encountering homelessness promotes awareness, gratitude and selflessness,” Fouladbakhsh said. “These are all valuable attributes that benefit not only individuals, but society as a whole.”

To learn more about Holistic Healthcare for the Homeless, contact Dr. Fouladbakhsh at jmfoulad@oakland.edu or 248-760-1158.
Community outreach program connects Oakland University nursing students with area homeless to offer health assessments and tips for healthy living.

Created by Colleen Campbell (cjcampbell@oakland.edu) on Friday, January 30, 2015
Modified by Eric Reikowski (esreikow@oakland.edu) on Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Article Start Date: Friday, January 30, 2015