Bobbi Herron-Foster, of Valparaiso, a medical-surgical clinical nurse specialist at Franciscan St. Anthony Health-Michigan City, recently was chosen winner of the 2015 MEDSURG Nursing Journal’s Gerontological Nursing Writer’s Award for an article titled, “Special Needs: Caring for the Older Adult with Down Syndrome.” The piece was inspired by Herron-Foster’s care for her late sister, Judith Ann Buchanan, who had the condition and died in 2013 at age 48. Foster, since age 10, was involved with her sister’s care and said she came to realize the need for nurses to be better aware of the special needs of older adults who are so afflicted.
“People don’t know there is a real difference taking care of someone with Down Syndrome; there are so many aspects to be considered. I want to teach younger nurses, who are going to be caring for older adults with DS, how to best meet their needs, since these individuals are living longer lives. Nurses in nursing homes also need to learn the special needs of such patients,” said Herron-Foster, who has been in the field for 28 years and at Franciscan St. Anthony Health the last five. “They are not the easiest patients to take care of, because many have Alzheimer’s or dementia and may be nonverbal. Nurses need to know what the patients are trying to communicate and I want to teach them what I know, based on my experience and research.” Herron-Foster began writing the article shortly after her sister’s death and submitted it in fall of 2013. After some revisions requested by the journal’s editors, she learned in June 2014 that it would be published in the July/August 2014 edition. “This is dedicated to Judy,” Herron-Foster said, adding, “She brought a lot of happiness and purpose to our family and was loved by many others.
When she laughed, we would giggle and laugh so hard, because when she was happy, she was beyond happy.” Herron-Foster, who is shown in her office, was invited to Las Vegas to participate in the Academy of Medical Surgical Nurses annual convention to celebrate the achievement. She is a member of the organization, which also publishes the journal. The other photo shows her with her mother, Shirley Buchanan, left, and her sister, Judith Ann, in 2011.