Working together to improve healthcare for older adults

Photo: Jenny Fontaine

The number of older adults in the U.S. continues to increase, with a population of 72.1 million predicted by 2030. Their care will require health professionals in different fields to work more closely together than ever before.

“The complex nature of working in gerontology requires input from a strong interdisciplinary team,” says Elizabeth Peterson, clinical professor of occupational therapy in the UIC College Applied Health Sciences.

Peterson is among a group of UIC health sciences professors who are developing online training programs to help healthcare professionals provide better care for older adults.

The project is funded by a three-year, $2.5 million grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

The team will produce a series of more than 20 online training modules on topics such as pain management, medication, fall prevention and end-of-life care.

“The strength of this grant is that it’s truly interdisciplinary,” Peterson says.

The project’s leadership team includes faculty members from all seven UIC health sciences colleges, who will participate in the development of each training module. The modules will include “referral cues” to prompt professionals in one field to consider when and why to consult a colleague in another field.

“We hope this will help providers from all fields to create habits of initiating conversations with other professionals,” Peterson says.

The training, eligible for professional continuing education credit, will be online in 2018. For more information visit