It was the first board meeting under the direction of our new President, Terry Fulmer, PhD, RN, FAAN, and it was the last board meeting for our long-time board chair, Norman H. Volk, who is succeeded by Margaret Wolff. Demonstrating the John A. Hartford Foundation’s commitment to our current strategies to create widespread and systemic practice change in health care, the Trustees approved $10.3 million in six new grants to improve the health of older adults, our largest authorization in many years.
The new grants add muscle to four of our five funding areas comprising the Foundation’s current strategic plan. And our fifth strategy, Interprofessional Leadership in Action, is certainly validated by these projects, most of which are the culmination of several years—sometimes decades—of work by leaders in the field of aging and health who we have helped develop and support.
In June 2011, I wrote about my then-80-year-old father’s experiences with post-operative confusion — otherwise known as delirium — following triple bypass surgery. Three-and-a-half years later, that post continues to draw thousands of readers every month, along with comments that express the frustration and heartbreak that is still all too common among families dealing with the issue.
So I’m pleased to share the news that our colleagues at the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) have released a guideline for health care professionals that I hope will greatly reduce the confusion and frustration so many older adults and their families have to endure as a result of failures to prevent, identify, or properly manage delirium after surgery.
For two decades, the John A. Hartford Foundation has invested in the development and spread of the Hospital at Home model of care, which provides safe, high-quality, hospital-level care to older adults with select conditions in the comfort of their own home.
Over those years, studies have consistently shown that the model delivers improved care and outcomes at lower costs. But adoption has been limited, leading us to conclude that Hospital at Home was ahead of its time.
Hartford Trustees Kathryn D. Wriston, left, and Lile R. Gibbons, at a recent reception honoring them as personal supporters of the MSTAR program.
Over the past 20 years, the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program—a summer internship that draws physicians-in-training into the field of geriatrics and aging research—has supported more than 2,000 medical students.
We celebrated the program’s 20th anniversary and its remarkable record last week with a reception honoring John A. Hartford Foundation Trustees and other individuals who have personally donated to the sustainability of this initiative, administered by the American Federation for Aging Research (AFAR).
Daniella Schocken, a student at the Icahn School, presents on her research on a Mount Sinai emergency department program that deploys EMTs to help older adults transition home after hospitalization.
What did you do for summer vacation? While many of us head to the beach or elsewhere to relax and get away from it all for a while, 149 enterprising students across the country instead devoted the break between their first and second year of medical school to learning about geriatrics and aging research.
Through the Medical Student Training in Aging Research (MSTAR) program, these future physicians engaged in geriatrics training and a mentored research experience at medical schools with outstanding geriatrics programs.
Before starting my internship with the John A. Hartford Foundation, the notion of improving health outcomes while decreasing costs appeared implausible. Securing strong patient-centered care for a loved one had to come at an extra expense—a large price tag for both the individual, his family, and the institution administering the care. After all, my family recently hired a home health aide to assist and advocate for my grandfather during his stay in the hospital and then during hospice, what is supposed to be one of the most patient-centered forms of care. My family believed that a consistent, if costly, presence and support system would serve him well during employee shifts and other downtime between caregivers.
And it made a difference. Our aide, Abdulai (last name withheld), served as my family’s lifeline, the person my grandfather could rely on for personalized and direct care, the person my mother could trust in clarifying medications and complicated procedures.
Author Caitlin Brookner (back, left) with her cousins and grandfather, Leonard Weisberg.
In Tuesday’s post on interprofessional education and the role of social workers in health care teams, I referenced a program called the Leadership Academy in Aging . This program warrants an additional mention for its success in providing leadership skills to deans and directors of schools of social work, as well as to promote the development of geriatric academic education and training in the social work profession.
The Leadership Academy in Aging is a year-long program that provides leadership skills and aging education to deans and directors of schools of social work, who also receive guidance in developing a program on aging within their school. The Academy was designed through a partnership between the Social Work Leadership Institute and the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work (NADD). The co-leaders are longtime Hartford Foundation grantee and partner Pat Volland and Katharine Briar-Lawson, Dean and Professor, School of Social Welfare, University at Albany. Originally supported by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Leadership Academy is now supported in part by NADD and tuition from the deans and directors.
With six cohorts to date, 66 deans and directors have participated in the Academy. This represents more than one quarter of all social work deans in the country. The transformational work of the Leadership Academy in Aging participants has resulted in a variety of outstanding and lasting contributions to the field of gerontology.