UNE, UMaine collaborate to develop statewide AgingME initiative
An initiative of the University of New England in collaboration with the University of Maine to improve the health and well-being of Maine’s older adults through enhanced practitioner training has received a five-year award of nearly $3.75 million from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) under its Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program.
The two universities will develop and lead a statewide collaborative called AgingME that will focus on improving the health and well-being of Maine’s older adults through training enhancements and practice transformation processes at the primary care level. The innovative collaboration, in partnership with Maine’s health systems leaders at MaineHealth and Northern Light and federally qualified health centers, will bring together practitioners, health professions students and educators from throughout the state to improve primary care for older adults and their caregivers.
UMaine’s Center on Aging will serve as the lead evaluator for the statewide geriatrics training initiative, documenting the impact of its work by collecting input and data from students, partners, older adults and caregivers reached through program efforts.
At UMaine, AgingME efforts will entail the integration of geriatrics and specialized clinical content into simulation lab training for students in the School of Nursing Family Nurse Practitioner program and gerontology courses in the Interprofessional Graduate Certificate program for health and human service professionals who provide care to older adults in a variety of primary care practice and other settings.
In addition, the UMaine School of Social Work will develop a geriatrics student social work field practicum unit, and the School of Food and Agriculture will incorporate a geriatrics nutrition practicum for upper-level nutrition majors and graduate dietetic interns. UMaine’s clinical psychology doctoral program also will advance its training related to the health and well-being of older adults, including a comprehensive supervised experience in gero-psychological review and analysis.
In a joint statement announcing the funding, U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King noted that the funding will help UNE and UMaine lead efforts to meet the needs of the state’s geriatrics-capable workforce to improve health outcomes for older adults in Maine and elsewhere in rural America.
“This HRSA-funded project represents an unprecedented opportunity to significantly expand the geriatrics skill set of health and human services personnel across the state and ensures that UMaine will continue to perform a critical function in this regard, especially in the region’s most rural communities,” says Lenard Kaye, Center on Aging director and UMaine professor of social work.