University of Kentucky Project AGE provides elder-care training to future social workers

The Social Work Leadership Institute (SWLI) at the New York Academy of Medicine recently announced grants awarded to 25 schools of social work, including the University of Kentucky College of Social Work, as part of the Practicum Partnership Program (PPP). The $75,000, three-year award will help to develop a university-community partnership that provides master's of social work (MSW) students with aging-rich field experiences across a range of care methods. UK's College of Social Work is one of 41 social work programs across the nation providing training in elder care to their master's students.

Funded by the John A. Hartford Foundation, the SWLI trains and advocates for a qualified social work labor force to provide support for older adults and ensure they have an opportunity to stay in charge of their own lives. SWLI cultivates social work leaders and acts as a central agent in cultivating and enhancing successful multidisciplinary partnerships. Through PPP, the institute is pioneering a new field education model that prepares professional social workers to assume leadership roles in provision of services to the increasingly older population and their families. The PPP university-community collaboration model also allows agencies to take a large role in developing skills and assisting the university in developing curriculum.

UK College of Social Work Project AGE, the name of UK's PPP grant program, began designing its program curriculum over the summer, utilizing input from the College's Aging Consortium established in 2002. The program, matched by $75,000 from the university, will be directed by Janet Ford, director of graduate studies and principal investigator for Project AGE, and Beth Mills, director of field education and project coordinator for the grant. Mills was the author of the UK grant proposal. Robynn Pease, adjunct faculty member and coordinator of Aging Services for the Lexington-Fayette County Urban Government, will assist Ford and Mills with curriculum development and teach a special field seminar for Project AGE students.

"Kentucky's aging population will double by the year 2030. The goal of Project AGE is to educate leaders in the field of geriatrics to meet the needs of this growing population, their families, and the communities in which they live," said Mills.

In response to this projected growth, Project AGE field placements will expose students to both well and frail older persons through a rotation of agencies where students are placed. The rotation will allow students an opportunity to focus on individual, community, and policy issues. Students will also take part in field seminars that are competency driven with input from all the agencies. The program will be formally evaluated across all funded programs.

Over the three-year grant period, Project AGE intends to train 24 second-year master's of social work students. The first cohort trained will come from UK's Lexington campus, but the College of Social Work plans to provide training to their off-campus students in master's programs at Morehead State University and the southeastern Kentucky campus at the Center for Rural Health in subsequent years. Best practices and shared program knowledge will identify the similar and differing strategies necessary to work with older people and their families across Kentucky's diverse geographic settings.

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UK and the other 24 programs funded in 2006 are building on work at the 16 original sites; SWLI hopes to spread PPP to 60 master's programs nationwide. Other social work programs or consortia selected for 2006 are: Adelphi University; Baylor University; Boston College; Boston University; California State; Case Western Reserve University; Florida State University; Michigan State University; Rutgers University; University of Connecticut; University of Denver; University of Iowa; University of Kansas; University of Montana; University of Nebraska - Omaha; University of North Carolina Chapel Hill; University of Washington; Widener University; SUNY Brockport and SUNY Buffalo; Loyola University and University of Chicago; and Texas State University - San Marcos and University of Texas Austin.

For more information on UK College of Social Work Project Age, contact Beth Mills at (859) 257-9851 or by email at beth.mills@uky.edu.


Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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