HRSA Workforce Grants to Foster Age-Friendly Primary Care

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is providing more than $200 million to support 42 programs across the country aimed at improving care for older Americans, including those experiencing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

HRSA’s Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) will train primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, and other healthcare clinicians to provide age-friendly and dementia-friendly care for older adults. The program also focuses on providing families and other caregivers of older adults with the knowledge and skills to help them best support their loved ones.

One of the grant recipients is the University of California San Diego, which has received $5 million to support the San Diego Imperial Geriatric Education Center (SDIGEC), which provides geriatric educational programming to health workers and other care providers across both San Diego and Imperial counties.

SDIGEC is an ongoing collaboration between UC San Diego and San Diego State University (SDSU) that works to address the critical need for more aging-friendly communities and health systems. Since its genesis in 2015, SDIGEC has been housed at SDSU, but the new funding will relocate the center to UC San Diego. The grant will also support new programming to reach underserved communities and provide training for a wider variety of health workers and caregivers, emphasizing the needs of those living with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

“As our aging population continues to grow and diversify, care needs will continue to evolve, so our workforce must evolve in turn,” said Roopali Gupta, M.D.,  clinical professor in the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Care at UC San Diego School of Medicine and SDIGEC project director, in a statement. “Over the next five years, SDIGEC will work to reach a broad range of learners across multiple healthcare professions through training and education with the ultimate goal of providing the best care possible for older adults in our communities.”

The HRSA workforce initiative integrates geriatric training into primary care to ensure that healthcare providers are prepared to identify and address the needs of older patients. Primary care providers are the usual source of care for many older individuals. Grantees also will work in the community to help family members and other caregivers understand the changing needs of those they support.

“One of the beautiful things about the GWEP program is that in addition to continuing our work locally, we get to join a national community of organizations with a shared mission, and we are honored to be invited into that community,” said Jennifer Reichstadt, SDIGEC project manager and director of education and development for the Division of Geriatrics, Gerontology and Palliative Care, in a statement. “Working together to address these issues at the national level gives us a tremendous opportunity to improve older adult care for the wider community, and it’s wonderful that UC San Diego was selected to help meet that goal.”

The HRSA effort is part of a broader HHS Health Workforce Initiative that includes a coordinated Department-wide effort to identify opportunities to improve health workforce recruitment, retention, and career advancement. It aims to help to elevate workforce programs and activities across the department, engage with stakeholders, and identify opportunities to further advance federal efforts to support the workforce. It also advances HHS’ work to fulfill the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease: building a workforce with the skills to provide high-quality care to people with dementia is a key strategy to better support the more than six million Americans currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as their caregivers.

 

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