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Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP)

The Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, also known as GWEP, at the University of Pittsburgh is sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The GWEP promotes development of the health care workforce and quality care for older adults through:

  • Community-based programs that equip patients, families, and caregivers with the knowledge and skills to improve quality of care and health outcomes among older adults
  • Preparation of healthcare providers to address the needs of older adults and their families or caregivers, as well as the greater community
  • Training opportunities for healthcare workers that bring together geriatric and primary care services

The University of Pittsburgh is one of 44 organizations to receive GWEP funding from a pool of $35.7 million allocated nationwide.

Partnering Organizations

Events for Healthcare Professionals

The Aging Institute offers a wide variety of events for healthcare professionals.

The University of Pittsburgh serves as the lead organization for this GWEP, which involves collaboration among the following:

Additional partners include:

GWEP Projects

GWEP consists of six projects, each focused on a different aspect of geriatric care.

Project 1: Improve the care of elderly veterans through education of primary care providers and family members

Compared to the general elderly population, older veterans tend to have a higher disease burden.

Health professionals from the Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System and the Department of Veterans Affairs are offering educational programs designed to address common health concerns of older adults and their family caregivers.

These professionals include:

  • Physicians
  • Pharmacists
  • Nurses
  • Social workers

Program topics include:

  • Dementia
  • Medication management
  • Mobility impairment and falls

Education sessions are available through the VA network of community-based outpatient clinics and home-based primary care services.

Project 2: Transform clinical training for Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) and provide training to health and social services professionals in rural and underserved urban areas

This project brings together the following groups to provide educational training related to ADRD :

  • University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing
  • School of Social Work
  • Alzheimer Disease Research Center (ADRC)
  • Alzheimer’s Association

This training focuses on multiple audiences, including:

  • Families and caregivers
  • Primary care providers
  • Social service professionals

Webinars and on-site training sessions are offered at locations throughout the following states:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Delaware
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • District of Columbia

Project 3: Advance dementia care competency and preparedness across disciplines in multiple primary care settings

This project focuses on developing, implementing, and evaluating curriculum and assessment tools for trainees and professionals who provide care to individuals with dementia, particularly those who lose the ability to communicate verbally.

Collaboration occurs between the following:

  • Department of Physical Therapy
  • Division of Geriatric Medicine
  • School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences
  • University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Positive Approach to Care (PAC), a program of dementia communication skills training, is the primary tool that enables experiential learning and skills development through:

  • Coaching
  • Feedback
  • Video-recording and playback
  • Workshops

Project 4: Improve mental health care for older adults in primary care settings

This project is led by a team of geriatric psychiatrists and mental health specialists from the following:

  • University of Pittsburgh
  • School of Medicine
  • Division of Geriatric Psychiatry
  • School of Nursing
  • Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic

Through on-site expert presentation and consultation, all personnel – health professionals as well as office staff – in primary care practices learn about major topics, syndromes, and resources in geriatric mental health, including:

  • Delirium
  • Dementia
  • Depression

Project 5: Improve healthy life styles of older adults by training health and social service providers to implement preventive interventions for older adults in community settings

Pennsylvania State University Center for Healthy Aging leads this initiative aimed at reducing sedentary behavior, improving nutrition, and encouraging social interaction among older adults in senior centers and continuing care retirement communities throughout central Pennsylvania.

Focus groups and needs assessments conducted at these sites provide valuable information that is incorporated into training and educational programs offered to their staff and participants or residents.

A train-the-trainer approach is used to promote self-management strategies in three areas:

  • Consuming a healthy diet
  • Engaging in physical activity
  • Facilitating social engagement, particularly in rural communities

Project 6: Establish a regional, community-based outreach and resource center

The Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services and the University of Pittsburgh provides resource and referral services through a telephone-based call line and a website available to all members of the community, connecting caregivers and older adults with:

  • Education and training
  • Home-based care options
  • Self-health management strategies
  • Social and emotional support

In addition to serving as a central repository for educational content developed by the other five GWEP projects, the Aging Institute engages in ongoing evaluation of the needs expressed by its call line and website users.

The findings from this analysis inform creation of additional caregiver resources including:

  • Marketing materials
  • Videos
  • Web content

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