With U.S. demographics shifting, an increasing number older adults will require care as they age. In an effort to develop a well trained workforce to care for our seniors, U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) developed the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP). This important grant allows health and education institutions to develop programs that are responsive to specific interprofessional geriatrics education and training needs of their communities. In July 2015, HRSA awarded 44 grants in 29 states including a 3-year $2.45 M grant to Rush University Medical Center (RUMC) in Chicago, Illinois.
As part of its efforts, RUMC is partnering with health care providers, universities and community organizations across the state. The 34 state-wide collaborators and partners have decades of experience educating patients, families, students, and professionals in innovative programs and strategies to care for older adults, particularly those with multiple chronic conditions, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (ADRD). They are positioned to bring change to the geriatric workforce in the state of Illinois, upper Midwest region, and nation.
The RUMC program, CATCH-ON, which stands for Collaborative Action Team training for Community Health – Older adult Network, is led by Robyn Golden, LCSW, and Erin Emery-Tiburcio, PhD. The team is using the grant to (1) educate older adults, their families and caregivers, students, direct care workers and health professionals about the care of persons with multiple chronic conditions (MCC) with special attention to those with Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementias (ADRD), and (2) transform primary care to better meet the needs of older adults. The CATCH-ON team outlines their current projects as they relate to each goal.
Goal 1: Education
CATCH-ON is currently developing online learning activities about normal aging, managing multiple chronic conditions including Alzheimer’s disease and Related Dementias (ADRD) and working in teams for both professionals/students, and for lay learner audiences. Educating every member of the team using similar language will enhance communication among all involved. Building on the learning activities, the CATCH-ON team will develop training support, faculty development and course materials to expand geriatric content in academic programs, and state-wide Learning Communities to further the application of the learning activities.
CATCH-ON members are also developing a Health Ambassadors program involving diverse members of the community who may not typically play a role in direct health care delivery but are uniquely positioned to do so. Health Ambassadors will be community members who participate in the online learning activities and agree to apply that training in MCC/ADRD prevention and management with their family members, clients, and/or in their communities, and have the opportunity to participate in Learning Communities.
Goal 2: Primary Care Transformation
CATCH-ON team members have developed a Readiness Assessment instrument to assess and improve readiness of five partner clinics (3 urban, 2 rural) for practice transformation and identifying desired CATCH-ON Community Health elements. RUMC’s four evidence-based, patient-centered, interdisciplinary MCC management programs along with self-management programs form the foundation of CATCH-ON Community Health. The four programs included are: BRIGHTEN (Bridging Resources of an Interdisciplinary Geriatric Health Team via Electronic Networking), Bridge, AIMS (Ambulatory Integration of the Medical and Social), and ACT (Activation and Coordination Team). The clinic and CATCH-ON teams will collaborate in identifying desired evidence-based practice-redesign elements; determine which components are best suited for infusion into existing clinic and community provider protocols; and customize CATCH-ON Community Health to the cultural and other specific needs of their locale. The team will then provide training and implementation support for CATCH-ON Community Health.
“We thank HRSA for the opportunity to build Illinois’s capacity to care for older adults through developing the eldercare workforce and new models of care that span the continuum of hospital, community clinic, community based agencies and home,” said Robyn Golden, who is director of Health and Aging at RUMC and Project Director of the GWEP.