INDIANAPOLIS — Better health care for older adults and better training for those who care for them are the goals of a new Indiana University initiative for which clinicians and educators recently received a three-year award of nearly $2.6 million.
IU competed against about 160 applicants nationally to secure one of 44 awards under the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, a new initiative from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services designed to improve services to older adults by incorporating geriatrics training into primary care and maximizing patient and family involvement.
The IU proposal is a collaborative project that includes the IU schools of medicine, nursing and social work, the IU Center for Interprofessional Health Education and Practice; the Regenstrief Institutes’ Center for Health Services Research in Health Professions Education & Practice; Eskenazi Health; IU Health; Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center; CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions and the Alzheimer’s Association.
“Our goal is to improve health outcomes for older adults with teams whose members are trained in the same models of geriatric care and who are able to maximize engagement by family members and the patients themselves,” said project Director Steven R. Counsell, M.D., the Mary Elizabeth Mitchell Professor of Geriatrics and founding director of the IU Geriatrics program at the IU School of Medicine.
The new IU initiative, the Indiana Interprofessional Geriatrics Education and Training Center, will focus its activities on central Indiana and eight community health centers operated by Eskenazi Health, and, working with CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions and the Alzheimer’s Association, about 5,000 older adults served by those health centers. Over time, Dr. Counsell said, the goal is to expand the system to underserved primary care settings statewide.
The newly funded interprofessional center will work to further integrate two IU Geriatrics programs into the health centers: Geriatric Resources for Assessment and Care of Elders, known as GRACE, and the Aging Brain Care program, both of which provide team-based care that helps to better address common geriatric conditions and coordinate care between medical and community-based social services.
The Indiana Interprofessional Geriatrics Education and Training Center will provide geriatrics education and training to residents — young physicians in training — as well as master of social work, advanced practice nursing and medical students; and emphasize interprofessional training enabling the various health professionals to work effectively in collaborative teams. In addition to working with aspiring and practicing professionals, the new center will train patients and their families, caregivers, and direct care workers toward optimizing health outcomes and quality of life in older Hoosiers.