Community Aging Health Project Trainings at Riker’s Island and in Hawaii

The Community Aging Health Project (CAHP), directed by Dr. Brie Williams, and supported by the Jacob and Valeria Langeloth Foundation and Tideswell at UCSF, is a geriatrics education initiative designed to help diverse professionals understand and respond to the unique health-related needs of older adults. In January, a CAHP team (Drs. Brie Williams and Anna Chodos from UCSF Geriatrics, Tacara Soones and Rachael Bedard of the Icahn School of Medicine) delivered geriatrics trainings to clinicians and correctional officers at New York City’s Riker’s Island. In February, a CAHP team including Dr. Brie Williams and Dr. Meera Sheffrin (UCSF Geriatrics), Dr. Michele DiTomas (CA Dept of Corrections and Rehabilitation), and Dr. Janet Myers (UCSF Center for AIDS Prevention Strategies) brought the training to diverse professionals working throughout the State of Hawaii’s criminal justice system including approximately 50 physicians, nurses and mental health professionals working in the state’s jails and prisons, 60 probation and correction officers, 25 state judges, and all members of the Hawaii Parole Authority Board.   The CAHP curriculum is adapted to the needs of each professional audience and includes a mix of short lectures about geriatrics and palliative care and hands-on trainings. For example, law enforcement and correctional officers receive a general introduction to the challenges of being an older adult and participate in small group sessions demonstrating what it is like to be old using the Oklahoma GEC Age Assist kits. For judges and other legal professionals, the CAHP also integrates training on decision-making capacity from a medical perspective and the role of low health literacy in legal forms and documents. Healthcare clinicians are offered the CAHP’s most intensive training which covers a variety of essential topics in geriatrics and palliative care including how to assess decision making capacity; review of their state’s POLST form, case scenarios to practice techniques used in prognostication, fall risk and cognitive assessments; hand-on practice with cell-based strength and balancing exercises; and hand-on training in how to fit assistive devices such as canes and walkers.   Evaluations of these trainings were extremely positive in both New York and Hawaii. The next steps for the Community Aging Health Project are to grow our program to reach more learner groups and to extend our network of clinicians who have been trained to deliver community-based geriatrics education. CAHP is currently organizing more trainings in response to requests from several other states.