Grant to launch program to train social workers in older adult care

March 27, 2008
CONTACT:
Kathy Miller, 661/654-2456, kmiller26@csub.edu or
Michele Newel, 661/654-2720, mnewell1@csub.edu
 

California State University, Bakersfield's master of social work program is one of 22 schools that has been awarded $75,000 over three years to develop an innovative program that prepares social workers to specialize in older adult care.

CSUB joins 57 others around the country that have adopted the model developed by the New York Academy of Medicine's Social Work Leadership Institute, with support from the John A. Hartford Foundation. Called the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education, the program addresses the growing demand for social workers as the nation's aging population is expected to more than triple by 2050.

"The percentage of elders in the San Joaquin Valley will double over the next 30 years," said Rose McCleary, CSUB social work professor. "The HPPAE program will increase the number of social workers in our region who are trained in gerontology who can meet the special needs of this population."

The Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education's, previously known as the Practicum Partnership Program, innovation is in building partnerships between universities and community agencies that offer students hands-on and varied experience caring for older adults across a range of settings, including home-based care, community centers, hospitals, and nursing homes.

The program differs from traditional MSW programs because it offers students multiple field rotations rather than just one clinical setting, and because the university and agencies collaborate on curriculum development to better bridge academic and practice learning.

During the three-year period of the grant, seven CSUB MSW students will be selected each year to receive a $4,000 per year stipend. First and second-year MSW students are eligible.

The New York Academy of Medicine reports within the next three decades, 70 million, or one in five Americans will be 65 or older. As life expectancy grows, the needs of older adults have become more diverse. Many Americans live independent and productive years far beyond retirement, while illness and chronic disease eventually plague some. As families balance caring for their older relatives with work, child-rearing, and other life issues, the demand for skilled professionals who can help navigate the personal, logistical, and health issues of older adults is increasing, the Academy states. Yet, according to a 2004 survey by the National Association of Social Workers (NASW), only four percent of social workers currently specialize in aging. Nearly 30 percent of licensed social workers are over 55 and poised to retire in the next decade.

CSUB will invite students to specialize in the Hartford Partnership Program for Aging Education starting in fall 2008, with the first crop of graduates expected in June 2009. To date about 600 students have graduated from the program around the country, and 80 percent of them have gone on to pursue careers in the aging field.

Prospective CSUB MSW student applicants should contact McCleary for details at (661) 654-6552 or rmccleary@csub.edu.

Social Work Leadership Institute is a national initiative working to ensure that America's older adults receive the care they need to live life to the fullest - and that their caregivers also get the support they deserve. It is housed at The New York Academy of Medicine, an independent, non-partisan, non-profit institution whose mission is to enhance the health of the public through research, education, advocacy, and prevention. More information can be found at www.socialworkleadership.org.

Founded in 1929, the John A. Hartford Foundation seeks to strengthen the nation's capacity to provide effective, affordable care to a rapidly increasing older population by educating "aging-prepared" health professionals (physicians, nurses, social workers), and developing innovations that improve and better integrate health and supportive services. Additional information about the Foundation and its programs is available at www.jhartfound.org.