It’s far too easy to place our elderly in facilities and then forget about them. We need to be more vigilant about protecting their basic human rights and dignity
Shonda grew up in North Carolina and got her undergraduate and graduate degrees in Public Administration from North Carolina Central University in Durham. She is currently studying to get a Certificate in Aging from UNC, while working as the ADA Coordinator for the Durham Area Transit Authority. Shonda says she got her spirit of volunteerism and love for the community from her mother Kay, who will be joining her on the cruise.
Shonda is a tireless advocate for the elderly, bringing considerable expertise and energy to the task of protecting residents of skilled care facilities. She does unannounced visits to nursing homes throughout Wake County, NC, interviews with residents and staff, and conducts a closing meeting with the senior administrator. She speaks with residents privately because they are often reluctant to speak openly with staff in attendance for fear of retribution. She reports her quality of care findings to the local committee that collects data for many facilities and makes recommendations to the state's Ombudsman. "I often find very unhappy circumstances," says Shonda. "Isolation and neglect of the elderly is all too common. Our aging population tends to be neglected, and my goal is to make sure their rights are respected." Shonda also volunteers with GOLD, Growing Older and Living with Dignity of Wake County, where she was a contributing advisor for transitional care and co-wrote the Aging Plan adopted by the Wake County Board of Commissioners.
Shonda is the only non-medical professional on North Carolina's Stroke and Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force. She works with a team of professions, like the presidents of the UNC and Duke University Hospital Systems, to promote heart health everywhere in the state. Shonda also helped establish the North Carolina Quit hotline for smoking cessation, which made many college campuses and restaurants smoke free. Says Shonda: "This work has a big impact on public health in the state and makes a difference."