Daemen Receives Grant to Advance Skills of Workforce Serving Elderly

March 28, 2014

Media Contact

Paula Witherell
Director of Institutional Communication
Daemen College
(716) 839-8472

AMHERST, N.Y. – A $20,000 grant from the Health Foundation for Western and Central New York to Daemen College will be used to help enhance the practical skills and experience of the future workforce serving the elderly.

The grant will be used to implement the Daemen Social Work Department’s initiative “Investing in an Elder-Competent Workforce: Relationship Building and Education for the Elderly in the Community Through Social Work Clinical Practice.” It builds on a $10,000 grant also from the Health Foundation for the development of enhanced geriatric education for social work students, an effort being overseen by Dr. Joanne Cannavo, associate professor of social work.

“This initiative is vital to advancing the skills of our students and giving them the opportunity to interact and work with an elderly population throughout their senior year of studies at Daemen,” said Cannavo.

As part of the initiative, a partnership was launched last fall with Compeer of Greater Buffalo.    
More than 20 senior-level social work students were matched with elderly adults with mental health diagnoses to give students the opportunity to mentor Compeer clients and to help support area individuals living with mental illness. Students also completed an online course and specialized training in advanced care planning. 

With the new grant, students will focus on understanding how their elderly partners are managing in the community and identify limitations they are encountering. The students will then provide referrals and connect the clients to services to help meet their needs and improve their quality of life.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging, the number of individuals age 65 and older will increase to more than 72 million or nearly 20 percent of the population by 2030.

“Given the rapidly growing geriatric population in the U.S., social workers need to be prepared to support our country’s aging residents, which is the focus of the Daemen initiative,” said Cannavo. “Through social work advocacy and mentoring, our students are learning about the challenges faced by the elderly mental health population, while also gaining first-hand experience in serving, empowering and addressing the needs of this vulnerable group.”

The Health Foundation for Western and Central New York is a non-profit private foundation whose mission is to improve the health and health care of the people of Western and Central New York.

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