Between 2010 and 2030, the number of older adults in the Unites States will almost double from 40 million to 78 million. The significant growth of the 85 and older population in that same time period is projected to rise from 5.5 million to 8.7 million. Of those 65 and older, 75% have at least one chronic condition and an estimated 3 out of 4 persons have multiple chronic conditions. More than 5 million people suffer with Alzheimer’s disease—a number expected to rise to 7.1 million by 2025. The nation must be prepared to meet increased needs for health services, home and community-based services, and new methods of integrated health care delivery.
To overcome the shortage of health care workers in both primary care and long term care settings, adequate training in geriatrics for the formal and informal health care workforce is needed. Patients must improve their understanding of the importance of managing their own health and learn how to access and navigate within the healthcare delivery system.
The Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP)
In response to the growth in the older adult population and the need for a better prepared health care workforce to care for them, in 2015, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Health Resources and Services Administration (DHHS-HRSA), established the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program, also known as the GWEP, to develop a health care workforce that maximizes patient and family engagement and improves health outcomes for older adults by integrating geriatrics with primary care.
GWEPs are funded under Title VII & Title VIII of the Public Health Service Act. In December 2014, HRSA combined the existing Title VIII Comprehensive Geriatric Education Program and the Title VII Geriatric Academic Career Award, Geriatric Education Centers, and Geriatric Training for Physicians, Dentists and Behavioral and Mental Health Providers programs into the Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. The FY 2016 Omnibus appropriations bill also consolidated these programs, resulting in total appropriations of $38.7 million.
Four focus areas:
1) Integrating geriatrics and primary care to transform clinical training environments to provide more coordinated and comprehensive care
2) Developing providers who can assess and address the needs of older adults and their families/caregivers
3) Creating and delivering community-based programs that provide patients, families, and caregivers with the knowledge and skills to improve health outcomes and quality of care for older adults
4) Providing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia education to families, caregivers, direct care workers, and health professions students, faculty, and providers
DHHS-HRSA Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) Grantees
New Jersey Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (NJ GWEP)
The New Jersey Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (NJ GWEP) at Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine’s New Jersey Institute for Successful Aging, is funded through the Health U.S. Department of Health and Human Services-Health Resources and Services Administration (DHHS-HRSA), Bureau of Health Workforce. Of 44 GWEPs nationwide to receive funding, it is the only one in New Jersey.
The NJ GWEP works to develop the health care workforce to provide quality care to older adults and provides training and support for families/caregivers to serve as partners in care for our growing number of elderly individuals.
Through a variety of projects, NJ GWEP works to:
Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine and its NJ Institute for Successful Aging serve as the lead organization for the NJ GWEP. We collaborate with a variety of organizations, institutions and programs and have established linkages to integrate geriatrics into provision of quality geriatric care and education and training in the care of older adults.