New educational resources:
- What You Need to Know About Opioid Dependence in Older Patients – 15 min Project ECHO – Geriatrics Didactic
- New Guidelines for Opioid Prescribing and What They Mean for Elders with Chronic Pain – 75 min Geriatric Healthcare Lecture
UW’s family medicine residents have monthly access to guidance on managing elder patients’ conditions.
On the third Friday of the month, a team of geriatric specialists lead a teleconference, Project ECHO – Geriatrics, a teleconference that is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most concerted efforts to improve care of elderly people.
Our own Katherine Bennett, MD testified February 5th, 2019 at the US senate HELP Committee Hearing about the merits of our Project ECHO – Geriatrics and our NW GWEC’s educational activities to better prepare the primary care workforce to care for older adults and ultimately reduce health care costs.
Click here to watch live.
An update from our partners at Aging and Disability Services (ADS):
When Aging and Disability Services (ADS) first announced our clinical-community partnership with the Northwest Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Center (NWGWEC), we could not know how successful it would be and how much we all would learn.
What’s been happening
Since our update in April 2016, ADS worked with the Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities of Southwest Washington to develop a practicum experience for healthcare trainees, residents, and fellows. Geriatric Medicine Fellows rotating throughout King County’s aging network have participated in listening sessions with Sound Generations advocates, observed care consultants at the Alzheimer’s Association, rode along on meal deliveries with Lifelong’s Chicken Soup Brigade, and accompanied Seattle Housing Authority case managers on client visits.
Healthcare providers and trainees have also learned about community-based programs during remote case consultations in Project ECHO—Geriatrics. Area Agency on Aging (AAA) representation on the interdisciplinary panel has ensured that programs such as Living Well with Chronic Conditions, PEARLS, Family Caregiver Support, and A Matter of Balance are included in care planning.
Bridging the gap
Much of health happens outside of a clinical setting, influenced by where and how we live, work, learn, and play. The collaborative activities of the NWGWEC aim to develop providers that can address the clinical and social needs of older adults. As we had hoped, educational activities and targeted outreach have been successful in raising healthcare providers’ awareness and understanding of community resources. One Fellow who spent time in the aging network shared:
“It’s like someone is drawing back the curtain to reveal what’s happening outside of the clinical setting. There are so many people and resources that I now understand what’s going on behind the scenes.”
Awareness building has also happened from within. Last spring, NWGWEC supported us in broadcasting the Geriatric Healthcare Lecture Series for AAA staff. We saw widespread participation, group-based discussion, and resource-sharing among social workers, caregiver specialists, and nurses. This specialized clinical education has helped staff feel better equipped to support older adults and their families managing their health care. One participant in the series shared:
“Over the course of the series, I have gained language that will help me communicate to others about Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The series also prepared me to approach end-of-life issues with clients and their loved ones.”
Our geriatrics workforce
Cutting across clinical and community environments means that we will be better equipped to meet the needs of older adults—and we will feel less alone in doing so. AAA staff who provided mentorship for the Fellows have expressed feeling encouraged by their interactions, like a mutual understanding of other’s work had been established. Caregiver coordinator Kristine Broome reflects on a home visit:
“The observing Fellow recognized the caregiver’s spouse as a patient seen during a clinic rotation. The caregiver was excited to show the Fellow how they had been using the prescribed medical equipment. Likewise, the Fellow found it valuable to see the care receiver in a home environment. During the visit, the caregiver mentioned fatigue due to loss of sleep. Together, the Fellow and I were able to offer new strategies and resources to help relieve the caregiver of nighttime stress.”
Dr. Bennett, associate program director for the UW Geriatric Medicine Fellowship, shared a similar sentiment:
“As a geriatrician, it has been so wonderful to have an opportunity to work with the AAAs. It is so nice to be a part of a community that cares so deeply for older adults. Partnerships like this make my job much more fun and rewarding.”
We look forward to another year of collaboration and learning!
Contributors Allison Boll and Mary Pat O’Leary work in the planning unit at Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging for Seattle-King County. Allison is the agency’s primary care liaison and Mary Pat is a registered nurse and planner.
Aging and Disability Services, the Area Agency on Aging of Seattle-King County, is excited to announce a partnership with the Northwest Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Center. This collaboration aims to positively impact the healthcare system for older patients, their families, and caregivers by providing specialized geriatrics training to primary care providers and other healthcare professionals.
The center was recently established at the University of Washington School of Medicine, Department of Geriatrics and Gerontology, through an award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. Dr. Elizabeth Phelan, UW associate professor of medicine, directs the project and center. She is joined by co-director Dr. Michael Vitiello, associate director Dr. Barbara B. Cochrane, and program managers Aimee Verrall and Heather Wicklein Sanchez.
The center’s leadership will coordinate geriatrics education activities across the Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Idaho region, including telehealth conferencing, webcasting, and website archiving of geriatric healthcare lectures. Other UW units contributing geriatrics expertise and leadership include the UW Schools of Nursing, Pharmacy and Social Work. Partners include Qualis Health, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, and two Area Agencies on Aging—the Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington and Aging and Disability Services. This partnership is a critical step towards building a community that is age-friendly.
In community engagement activities conducted last year, Aging and Disability Services learned that over one-third of older participants receive information about community resources and services from their healthcare provider. Supporting the dignity, quality of life, and choice of older adults requires that they have knowledge of and access to the services for which they are eligible. To realize this vision, a “primary care liaison” position was created within partnering Area Agencies on Aging to be the bridge or link between community-based programs and healthcare providers. Through in-person support and resource sharing, the primary care liaison raises awareness of programs and strategies to support older patients, family members and caregivers in the community. The liaison will also coordinate simple referrals from healthcare providers to King County’s network of aging and disability service providers, known as Community Living Connections.
Contributor Allison Boll is primary care liaison at Aging and Disability Services. To learn more about this project or arrange an outreach visit, contact her at Allison.Boll@seattle.gov or 206-733-9925. For information about other services and resources, call Community Living Connections at 206-962-8467 or toll-free 1-844-348-5464 (KING) or e-mail email@example.com.
Photo of Allison Boll by Lorraine Sanford.