Boston University News Release

23rd October, 2002

Boston University School of Social Work Receives $4.4M Grant to Meet the Care Needs of Older Adults

BOSTON, MA To address the urgent shortage of trained health care professionals to care for the nation's aging population, Boston University's School of Social work has received a $4.4 million grant from The Atlantic Philanthropies to create the Institute for Geriatric Social Work. At a time when the expected need for geriatric care far exceeds the available workforce of trained professionals, the Institute will assume a leadership role in training social workers nationally to serve the growing numbers of Americans over age 65 - expected to double to 70 million by 2050. Funded for five years, the Institute will build upon the School's tradition of excellence in research and scholarship in gerontology and its pathbreaking work in applying research to improve the quality of services to older adults and their families.

The first phase will be to address the knowledge and skill needs of practicing social workers, who are increasingly working with older adults but who lack formal gerontological training. The Institute will collaborate with the American Society on Aging - with 7,000 members, the nation's largest professional organization in the field of aging - to develop focused short-term education and training programs to provide geriatric care skills for practicing social workers. These will include a variety of innovative distance learning approaches such as text-based self-study modules, CD-ROMs, Web-based seminars, and audiotapes, as well as more traditional half-day and day-long seminars and workshops offered at professional conferences.

The second phase is to promote geriatric social work interventions found to be effective and cost-efficient. The Institute will conduct two major clinical trials to demonstrate the effectiveness of social work involvement in health programs and services designed to improve the lives of older people and their families. Through targeted dissemination of the results of its education and research initiatives and the hosting of policy forums in Washington, D.C., the Institute will also seek to influence policy-makers to expand reimbursement options and health insurance coverage for geriatric social work practice.

"Historically, the field of social work has been oriented toward caring for children and families. But the field now has to respond to changing demographics and an explosion in the number of people with chronic illnesses," said Dr. Scott Miyake Geron, associate professor at the School of Social Work and director of the new Institute. "This effort is unique because it provides specific training in aging to social workers who are already working in a broad range of specialties, and because it addresses the need for basic research in aging and social work."

Serving as associate directors of the Institute of Geriatric Social Work will be Judith Gonyea, associate professor and chair of the research department at the School of Social Work, and Professor Robert Hudson, chair of the department of social welfare policy.

"Accommodating the aging of our society is a daunting challenge and the profession of social work is in a position to both meet the immediate needs as well as establish a higher standard of care for the future," said Wilma Peebles-Wilkins, dean of the School of Social Work. "These efforts by Dr. Geron and his colleagues to advance social work in gerontology preserves the legacy and pioneering efforts of the late Louis Lowy, former associate dean for academic affairs at the school."

A former School of Social Work professor and pioneer in the field of gerontological social work, Lowy taught at Boston University from 1957 to 1987. He died in 1991.

The Atlantic Philanthropies - Bermuda-based with affiliate organizations in the United States, Ireland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland - works globally to identify and support leaders, institutions, and organizations dedicated to learning, knowledge building, and solving pressing social problems. The Atlantic Philanthropies has awarded approximately 2,900 grants totaling $2.5 billion since 1982.

The Boston University School of Social Work offers an integrated program of study, including clinical and macro social work methods. It currently has 370 full-time, part-time and dual-degree students at the masters and doctoral level. With a total enrollment of more than 29,000 in its 17 schools and colleges, Boston University is the fourth-largest independent university in the United States. The University offers an exceptional grounding in liberal arts, a broad range of programs in the arts, sciences, engineering, and professional areas, and state-of-the-art facilities for teaching and research.

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