NYU - New York University

07/09/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 07/09/2024 09:34

NYU Meyers Receives $5M Grant to Strengthen Workforce Caring for Older Adults in the Bronx

NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing has been awarded a $5 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to train 5,000 health care professionals in providing age-friendly care for older adults in the Bronx.

The project is led by Tara Cortes, PhD, RN, FAAN, executive director of the Hartford Institute for Geriatric Nursing (HIGN) at NYU Meyers, and builds on a long-standing collaboration among HIGN, Montefiore Health System, and the Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA), an agency serving older adults in New York City. The grant is part of HRSA's Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, which aims to educate and train health care workers to care for older adults by collaborating with community partners.

New York City is home to more than 1.7 million older adults-a number that is only expected to rise as baby boomers age-but the workforce caring for older adults has not kept up with the growing need. The Bronx in particular lacks health care resources: 18 areas in the borough are designated by HRSA as medically underserved.

"Many older adults live with dementia or other chronic illnesses, but there is a scarcity of health care professionals ready to meet the complex needs of this vulnerable population," said Cortes. "This project seeks to grow the geriatric workforceandfoster a new generation committed to caring for the diverse population of older adults in the Bronx."

To better serve older adults, health systems and long-term care settings are increasingly embracing the idea of age-friendly care, which prioritizes patients' goals, preferences, and quality of life. Age-friendly care focuses on four evidence-based elements, referred to as the 4Ms: what matters, medications, mind, and mobility.

The collaboration among NYU, Montefiore, and JASA will educate health care students and practicing professionals on providing age-friendly care in a range of settings, both in the community (primary care, dementia clinics, and home care) and nursing homes. Educational programs will be tailored to each profession, including doctors, nurses, social workers, pharmacists, community health workers, and home health aides.

"There are critical shortages of geriatricians and other health care professionals specializing in the care of older adults, and there is an urgent need to provide additional training to the entire health care workforce to meet the needs of this at-risk population," said Amy Ehrlich, MD, chief of the Division of Geriatrics at Montefiore Health System/Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "This collaboration includes both educational initiatives and programs to further strengthen the relationship between our primary care network and community based organizations."

"As New York City's aging population continues to grow, developing a strong health care workforce pipeline is one of the biggest challenges to ensuring older adults can age in place. To meet that need, this innovative partnership will help build a professionally diverse and collaborative workforce in the Bronx that bridges health and social services for older adults, bringing vital resources to medically and socially underserved communities," said Kathryn Haslanger, CEO of JASA. "In partnership with NYU's Hartford Institute of Geriatric Nursing and Montefiore Health System, this program will have a meaningful impact on both addressing the complex needs of the borough's aging population and on providing new opportunities for the workforce that serves it."

One focus of the program is to develop a pathway for the career advancement of certified nursing assistants (CNAs). HIGN will work with New York State to create a geriatric specialist certification program for CNAs to prepare them to provide age-friendly and dementia-friendly care and further their careers.

"CNAs are the eyes and ears of long-term care, providing the most direct patient care in these settings," said Cortes. "Recent efforts to improve staffing in nursing homes, including those by the Biden-Harris Administration and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, have called for a strategy to advance the role of nursing assistants. We look forward to working with New York State to develop a certification that empowers CNAs as leaders in age-friendly care, and can be replicated across the country."

The program will also expand the training opportunities for nursing students to gain clinical experience in long-term care in an effort to increase the number of nurses who choose to practice in these settings. Starting in 2025, nursing students from NYU Meyers and the Montefiore School of Nursing will begin clinical rotations in two nursing homes in the Bronx-a first for the two schools.

Through training health professionals with a focus on age-friendly care and implementing the 4Ms in these settings, the project will also enable more than 30 Bronx primary care clinics and nursing homes to obtain age-friendly recognition by the Institute for Healthcare Improvement.

HIGN, Montefiore, and JASA previously collaborated on a program in the Bronx focused on integrating geriatrics with primary care and empowering community members as partners in health care, also funded by HRSA's Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. The initiative, which ran from 2015 through 2019, provided health education to more than 2,000 older adults in the Bronx.