UNE Maine Geriatric Education Center receives $1.07 million five-year HRSA Grant

October 11, 2010

The University of New England Maine Geriatric Education Center (UNE-MGEC) has received a $1,072,111 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide health professionals, faculty and students with training and tools to enhance geriatric healthcare education over the next five years.  

Maine is the oldest and most rural state in the country, and its health care work force is aging, as well. Maine's primary care providers and other health professionals, particularly those with knowledge of elder health, are in short supply.  

UNE-MGEC partners with a network of state and national organizations to develop and implement evidence-based best practice geriatric education and training to meet the geriatric health education needs of Maine's health workforce, health professions faculty and students, community organizations, and older adults and their families.

UNE-MGEC Director Judith A. Metcalf, APRN, BC, MS, states: "This HRSA grant will enable UNE-MGEC to continue to expand upon our successful programs and maximize the resources we have to educate health professionals, health professions faculty and students about the unique needs of older adults, helping older adults to continue to lead engaging and fulfilling lives."

The UNE-MGEC project will concentrate education in five areas:

  1. Health literacy, by providing interprofessional (IP) training for health professionals and faculty to build awareness, knowledge and skills around "plain language"
  2. Falls and quality of falls care IP training for health professionals
  3. Fall prevention IP training for health professions students
  4. Arts in aging; and 
  5. Development, dissemination and evaluation of new and existing training and resources with a focus on geriatric emergency preparedness, particularly in long-term care and assisted living settings.

Metcalf calls the arts in aging program, in particular, "very exciting."  She states: "We are partnering with the Maine Arts Commission and Cultural Resources, Inc. to show how creativity matters to the health of the body, mind and spirit of older adults."  The organizations are collaborating to create the Living Art-Living Well Studio learning series, which aims to increase awareness of the intersection of art and health in older adults.  

Over the five years of the grant the Living Art-Living Well Studio will move to a different region in Maine each year, beginning at UNE. Each year there will be four sessions, featuring Maine master artists as role models for aging, exploring how their creative work is part of their life review process and its overall relationship to health.

"All of the UNE-MGEC programs are intended to help health professionals and students address the unique needs of our older adults and emphasize the wisdom, value and creativity that older adults bring to our communities," says Metcalf.

UNE-MGEC, located on UNE's Portland Campus, is based in the College of Graduate Studies and its Center for Community and Public Health (CCPH).  CCHP includes a wide array of rural health experts and researchers from the Center for Health Policy Planning and Research, the UNE Graduate Program in Public Health, and the Maine AHEC Network.