Utah Geriatric Education Center
Improving the Primary Care Workforce for Long Term Care
The Utah Geriatric Education Center (UGEC) was established to improve post-acute healthcare and health-related long term services and support (LTSS) through education of the workforce that provides these services. This includes not only the health professionals currently being educated at the University of Utah (physicians, pharmacists, nurses, physical therapists, occupational therapist, social workers and other health professionals), but also those currently providing long term care (health professionals and direct care workers, as well as the family caregivers and older adults themselves). A secondary, but complementary, purpose of the Center is to improve the understanding and management among these groups and in the community at large.
The current UGEC was established in July, 2015 under a cooperative agreement granted to the University of Utah College of Nursing from the Health Resources Services Administration (HRSA). The University previously had GEC designation, which lapsed in the late 1990s. UGEC is funded under the Geriatric Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) initiative, which focuses on improving primary care and dementia care of older adults nationwide. The GWEP mechanism requires that the grant recipient have community partners who provide primary care and community services, in addition to multidisciplinary faculty stakeholders who develop curriculum content and oversee program implementation.
Of the 44 universities in the U.S. who were awarded GWEP grants, UGEC is the only site to focus on long term care. The community partners of UGEC include two Health systems (Avalon Health Care and Mission Health Services facilities located in Utah); Health Insight (QIO--Quality improvement Organization for Utah); and the Alzheimer’s Association of Utah. Our application emphasized that of the 1.4 million older adults in the U.S. residing in nursing homes, the long term residents have an average stay of 835 days. The length of stay necessitates not only long term services and support, but also a coordinated system of primary care - including health promotion, disease prevention, and management of acute and chronic conditions - delivered predominately within the nursing home. Further, a smooth transition back to a community-based source of primary care is essential for skilled care residents. Throughout the healthcare system there is the need for integration of geriatrics into primary care, but in long term care settings, bidirectional integration with infusion of primary care into eldercare is indicated. This is the goal of the UGEC programming.