Attending the opening celebration for the Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program are, left to right, Mardell McClurkin, April Mayo, Terri Hocott, Robin McAtee, Jeannie Wei, Robert Huston and Ron Orick; back row: Mary Ellen Jesson, LuAnn Renfro, Crystal Cullen, Lana Howard, Fred Taylor, Rosemary Alcon, Claudia Beverly, Gretchen Orosz, Larry Wright andGilda Underwood.
LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation today celebrated the opening of the Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program in Fort Smith, providing new opportunities for the elderly to stay in their homes as they age.
Developed in northwest Arkansas in partnership with UAMS, the Schmieding caregiver training program offers four levels of certification for paid caregivers and two workshops for those who provide care to their family members.
A $3,015,565 grant in 2009 from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to the Arkansas Aging Initiative of UAMS enabled the initial replication of the Schmieding program. Between 2009 and 2012, sites were established in Jonesboro, Pine Bluff, Texarkana and West Memphis. In 2012 the Reynolds foundation gave UAMS a phase II grant of $7.7 million to continue the initial programs and to add sites in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Hot Springs and El Dorado. All eight programs will be up and running by October 2013.
Those attending today’s ribbon cutting and grand-opening event in Fort Smith included
Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and chair of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine; Claudia Beverly, Ph.D., R.N., associate director of the Reynolds Institute on Aging and director of the Arkansas Aging Initiative, which oversees nine Centers on Aging across Arkansas; Robin E. McAtee, Ph.D., R.N., the principal investigator for the Reynolds Foundation grant; Gretchen Orosz, M.D., director of the West Central Center on Aging in Fort Smith; representatives from Spark’s Regional Medical Center in Fort Smith and Mercy Hospital Fort Smith; and Don Heard, Ed.D., director of the UAMS Area Health Education Center West in Fort Smith.
The Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program was inspired by Lawrence H. Schmieding, who had struggled to find competent, compassionate home care for a brother with dementia. In 1998, the Schmieding Foundation donated $15 million to UAMS to establish and construct the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education in Springdale. Working in partnership with the Arkansas Aging Initiative, a program of the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, the center developed a unique, high-quality caregiver training program specifically for older adults living in their homes.
The Fort Smith program is located in the West Central Center on Aging, at 512 S. 16th St. The center contains a classroom and a learning laboratory that simulates a home environment. To learn more about the Schmieding program, visit www.arcaregiving.org or call 1-479-478-8819 or toll free 1-877-762-0015.
The expansion of the Schmieding program is occurring at a critical time for Arkansas, which ranks seventh nationally in the percentage of people older than 60 (18.7 percent).
“We at UAMS are excited to be part of a program that is so important to Arkansas,” Dr. Wei said. “Elder care touches everyone, and it will become more critical as our baby boomers grow older and as an increasing number of aging adults opt for living at home rather than a long-term care facility.”
“Given the growing caregiving needs of our older adult population, this is an opportune time to replicate a proven caregiving educational program to help address these needs,” McAtee said.
The expansion of the Schmieding program is being built on a solid foundation established by the Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Arkansas Aging Initiative, Beverly said.
“We now have the infrastructure to help ensure a successful expansion,” Beverly said. “The Arkansas Aging Initiative provides unparalleled access to rural older adults and local health care and community networks.”
Since its inception, the UAMS Schmieding Center in Springdale has trained hundreds of home care workers and has been recognized outside of Arkansas. The Schmieding training method, which may be unique in the United States, has garnered visits to Springdale from representatives of the International Longevity Center and prominent leaders in the fields of aging.
The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it was named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, it has committed over $230 million to improving the lives of elderly people throughout the United States.
UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute, the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Translational Research Institute. Named best Little Rock metropolitan area hospital by U.S. News & World Report, it is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has more than 2,800 students and 790 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including about 1,000 physicians and other professionals who provide care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or www.uamshealth.com.