What is GWEP?
The Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (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.
Maine’s GWEP—known as AgingME — aims to create a more age-friendly health system by better preparing an age-capable workforce, transforming primary care practices and engaging and empowering older adults.
The 5-year, $3.75 million Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) grant is sponsored by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. UNE COM, working in close collaboration with the University of Maine and multiple statewide partners, was one of 48 organizations nationally to receive this funding.
Under the umbrella of a statewide AgingME Council, Aging ME will improve the alignment of new and existing primary care and community-based efforts in geriatrics and create synergies for the well-being of older Mainers.
What are the specific goals?
AgingME has the below five objectives:
- Develop partnerships between academia, primary care delivery sites or systems, and community-based organizations to educate and train a geriatrics healthcare workforce
- Train geriatrics specialists, PCPs, health professions students, residents, fellows and faculty to assess and address the primary care needs of older adults
- Transform clinical training environments to integrated and primary care systems to become age-friendly health systems that incorporate the principles of value-based care and alternative payment models
- Deliver community-based programs that provide patients, families, caregivers and direct care workers with the knowledge and skills to improve health outcomes for older adults
- Provide training to patients, families, caregivers, direct care workers, providers, health professions students, residents, fellows and faculty on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias.
What are some projects being funded by the grant?
The scope of work is extensive. Here are just some of the highlights:
- Project ECHO: To support the care of older adults in rural primary care sites.
- Education Enhancements: To develop and expand education programs such as Maine Academy for Geriatrics Interprofessional Continuing Education Program (MAGIC), UNE COM’s Geriatrics Education Mentoring with Seniors (GEMS), enhanced field placements and practica at UMaine.
- Plain language initiative: To improve health literacy among older adults and their care partners as well as among students and health professionals with older adults.
- Practice Transformation: To optimize the use of Medicare Annual Wellness Visits, detect cognitive impairment earlier, focus on the 4Ms and support care partners.
- Community-based Programs: To support Falls Prevention Programs, Brain Health, the Conversation Project and Savvy Caregivers.
- Conference Offerings: To deliver special age-friendly health system sessions at the annual Clinical Geriatrics Colloquium and Maine Geriatrics Conference.
How will you know if it worked?
An extensive evaluation component is built into the grant and HRSA requires quite specific outcome measures. These are largely built around Medicare’s Merit-Based Incentive Payment System or MIPS program which tries to link quality, good patient outcomes and reimbursement. AgingME will be tracking how well the health system is doing with respect to falls, advanced care planning and deprescribing, among others.
Can the funding be used for services?
No. HRSA-funded projects focus on education and practice transformation. HRSA funding may not be used for research either, though there is a strong evaluative component.