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Devin D. Thorpe

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Improving Care for Older Americans

A $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is helping to develop the next generation of geriatric health workers in San Diego County.

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (July 30, 2015) — San Diego State University’s School of Nursing, School of Social Work, and Graduate School of Public Health, along with the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, Aging & Independence Services (AIS), UCSD Geriatric Medicine and five community partners, have received $2.5 million in funding through the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program to establish the San Diego/Imperial Geriatric Education Center and develop the next generation of geriatric health workers in San Diego County.

The Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, a $35.7 million effort by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, aims to improve the quality of healthcare for older Americans. DHHS awarded cooperative agreements to 44 organizations in 29 states, challenging them to identify the specific interprofessional geriatrics education and training needs of their communities and develop a program responsive to those needs. California received the largest number of awards.

“This award recognizes the cooperation between SDSU, UCSD, the County of San Diego, and multiple community partners in addressing the educational needs of professionals and families related to Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders.” said Philip A. Greiner, director of SDSU’s School of Nursing and principal investigator of the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. “It is an opportunity to further develop interprofessional geriatric teams, a proven method for improving care to older adults with memory disorders.”

With a focus on Alzheimer’s and related dementias (ADRD) and the chronic conditions that impact memory loss, the initiative will:

  • Train at least 60 graduate students, medical residents and fellows on integrated geriatrics and primary care, interdisciplinary team building, and the prevention, recognition and treatment of memory loss and associated chronic conditions
  • Expand clinical training environments to provide experiences in integrated geriatrics and primary health care delivery systems for at least 60 students
  • Train at least 1,500 primary care providers and staff on ADRD screening, diagnostic criteria and treatment protocols, disease and care management and community resources, all derived from The Alzheimer’s Project
  • Train at least 9,000 service providers who work with people with memory loss and their families
  • Train at least 2,500 caregivers on effective care strategies for themselves and family members
  • Develop and conduct a public education campaign on memory loss and ADRD
  • Conduct a needs assessment in Imperial County for expansion of Geriatric Education Center services.

This program builds on The Alzheimer’s Project, a regional initiative where the County of San Diego, through the leadership of Chairwoman Dianne Jacob (now County Supervisor) and the County Board of Supervisors, brought together community partners to develop plans to address this growing health concern. The GWEP initiative will begin in San Diego County and, in year three, explore expansion into Imperial County.

“The $2.5 million award is a recognition of the impressive teamwork we’re seeing across San Diego County to address the epidemic of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia,” said Jacob. “By bolstering training and know-how among geriatric workers, the award will allow us to make real progress in our efforts to help those with the disease, along with their families.”

The San Diego/Imperial Geriatric Education Center, which will be based out of SDSU’s Academy for Professional Excellence, will build on the strong, multi-sector partnerships established by The Alzheimer’s Project to address the education and training needs in San Diego County.

Community partners collaborating on the project include The Alzheimer’s Association – San Diego/Imperial Chapter, Glenner Memory Care Centers, San Diego County Medical Society Foundation, and Southern Caregiver Resource Centers.

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