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Community Engagement Award Highlights: Sacramento Public Library’s Brain Health Initiative

Posted by on May 27th, 2020 Posted in: Advocacy, All of Us, Consumer Health, Funding, Outreach
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by Katie Ball, Special Projects Associate
Sacramento Public Library
Sacramento, CA

a woman with glasses at an exhibit holding up a brochure

An RN showing NLM and NNLM resources

The Sacramento Public Library (SPL) received a 2019-2020 All of Us Community Engagement Award from the Pacific Southwest Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM PSR). This award was used to create the first health literacy focused program for SPL, the Brain Health Initiative (BHI). The goal of the BHI was to facilitate the process of healthy aging by delivering information on Alzheimer’s disease and techniques to improve brain health. We aimed to reach our goal by providing the following activities:

  • Fidget Blanket Workshops: We partnered with the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to provide a one-hour class on Healthy Living for your Brain and Body. Following the class, participants were given the opportunity to create a fidget blanket for their loved one.
  • Health Liaison training: A branch representative from each library in our system was selected to become a Health Liaison and received training on trusted Health Literacy resources, Alzheimer’s disease, and health resources in the community.
  • Blood Pressure Drop-in Clinics: We partnered with Samuel Merritt University RN to BSN program to provide blood pressure checks at our branches, staffed by Registered Nurses (pictured). We provided patrons with information on how to lower their blood pressure, as well as the connection between good heart health and good brain health, and gave away blood pressure monitors to track readings at home.
  • Senior Resource Packs: At outreach events, we gave away Senior Resource Packs, which were tote bags filled with the What to Do For Senior Health book from the Institute for Healthcare Advancement, a pill splitter, a travel alarm clock, a pill organizer, and printouts on senior-focused health care and tips for better brain health.
  • Brain Health Kits: To encourage patrons of all ages to participate in brain fitness activities at any time, we introduced Brain Health Kits, available to be checked out from branches throughout the system. These kits include tactile and word puzzles, conversation starters, trivia books, and information from the Alzheimer’s Association for how to better care for your brain.
  • Targeted outreach: We identified vulnerable populations throughout Sacramento County to engage with in order to distribute Senior Resource Packs and share information about blood pressure drop-in clinics and fidget blanket workshops. We also partnered with the local All of Us office to have a representative accompany SPL at outreach events.

One of the successes from the BHI came out of one of our Fidget Blanket Workshops, held at our Valley Hi—North Laguna branch. A woman attended, and said she was unaware of the fidget blanket portion. SPL staff explained that all of the supplies would be provided for free and there was a sewing instructor available to help troubleshoot any issues. The woman was dubious, as she was the primary caregiver for her mother, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease. The attendee was an experienced sewer, but wasn’t sure she could dedicate two hours to creating a fidget blanket. SPL staff encouraged her to stay for an hour and whatever she wasn’t able to complete in that time, she could take the supplies home to later finish the blanket. The woman agreed and she got to work.

fidget blanket

A fidget blanket at the Healthy Living for your Brain and Body workshop

As she created her blanket and sewed the pieces together, she shared stories with the instructor, letting her know how she was rusty and she never took the time to be creative anymore because she was so busy caring for her mother, even though she knew it was good for exercising her brain. Almost to the minute, an hour later, she completed her blanket (pictured) and said to the instructor, “Wow, I did something good for me and good for my mother, all at the same time!”

With the stay-at-home orders that were put in place for the state of California to slow the spread of Coronavirus, SPL had to cancel multiple BHI activities that were scheduled in the months of March and April. This was disappointing, as our blood pressure drop-in clinics had been well-received by the community and we were on a good trajectory to grow attendance at our Fidget Blanket Workshops, but we look forward to continuing the work started in this project when we re-open. We plan to continue in-reach and outreach to distribute Senior Resource Packs, as well as explore ways to market the Brain Health Kits to caregivers, senior facilities, and the general public. Our partnership with Samuel Merritt University will continue for the next three years, which will enhance our health-related programming. We will also pursue more opportunities for collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association. Finally, we will be adapting BHI information and resources for use in our Library AF programs for young adults, aimed at the 20s-40s age group. There are many excellent resources developed in this project and partnerships that were formed that can be utilized for future health programs at SPL.

Image of the author ABOUT Julie Botnick
Julie Botnick is an Education & Outreach Librarian for the NNLM PSR located at UCLA.

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10833 Le Conte Ave. 12-077 Center for the Health Sciences
Box 951798
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1798
Phone: (310) 825-2183
Email: psr-nnlm@library.ucla.edu

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Cooperative Agreement Number UG4LM012341 with the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

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