Aging and geriatrics is a major area of specialization at The Ohio State University College of Social Work. The College has made a strong commitment to both professional education and to community-based aging research and is a leader in a number of aging-related university-wide collaborations. Also, in collaboration with representatives from the practice community, the College has identified aging and geriatric social work as one of the primary foci in its new semester-based cutting-edge instruction and research.
As the College transitions with the university to semesters, it is taking advantage of an opportunity to reconsider its mission and to realign its curriculum and research with the needs of society, the strengths of its faculty, and the interests of its students. The College’s goal is to ultimately become the hub of activity on Ohio State’s campus for all initiatives surrounding aging.
Consistent with this goal, the college is proud to announce that Dr. Tom Gregoire, Dean of the College of Social Work, has been accepted into the Leadership Academy in Aging for 2010-11. Gregoire is among 11 social work deans selected nationally. The program, sponsored by the New York Academy of Medicine and the Hartford Foundation, is specifically designed for deans and directors who aspire to further raise their school’s profile in the area of aging. For more information about the program, visit click here
“Our strategic plan includes an emphasis in building upon our strengths,” said Gregoire. “In terms of our research, teaching, and leadership, aging is a strength at the College of Social Work.”
Faculty Focus on Aging
Additionally, the college has four full-time faculty who focus exclusively on aging, two of whom are Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholars, and two senior faculty who have international reputations. Besides maintaining active research agendas, these faculty members are committed to engaging students inside and outside of the classroom to encourage them to consider a career in geriatric social work and to prepare them for the challenges of practice in this area.
For instance, the new curriculum will allow students from both the clinical and the administrative/policy concentrations to select a specialization in aging. While still in the developmental phase, this specialization is intended to provide students with an understanding of aging theory, aging policy, and practice with older adults and their families. As the signature pedagogy of the profession, field work will be closely linked to classroom work as students apply their academic skills to real world situations. The College has a growing array of field opportunities in aging settings (e.g., nursing homes, adult day centers, Alzheimer’s Association) where students can hone these skills.
Research and Aging
When it comes to aging research, College faculty pursue strategies to improve long-term care services for elders and their caregivers. This includes efforts to better describe and evaluate the delivery of care to elders in Ohio and elsewhere, as well as efforts to introduce new approaches to care.
Drs. Holly Dabelko-Schoeny and Keith Anderson are working with Heritage Day Health Centers, the largest provider of adult day services in Ohio, to examine the impact of civic engagement on self esteem, perceived usefulness, and overall well-being of older individuals with cognitive and physical disabilities. They have also partnered with the National Adult Day Services Association to examine the adult day services industry with regard to diabetes care, dementia care, and caregiving. The first of its kind since 2002, this study is unveiling program activities and benefits for the 35 million people over the age of 65 today—and tomorrow when that number is expected to double. The research, which focused on critical preventive and community-based care, was funded by the MetLife Mature Market Institute. Dabelko-Schoeny and Anderson are both recipients of the prestigious and highly competitive Hartford Fellowships.
Dr. Virginia Richardson’s research and teaching focus includes aging and mental health, widowhood, and bereavement. She has authored many publications, including the recent book, Gerontological Practice for the 21st Century: A Social Work Perspective
, in 2008. Richardson, along with Anderson, is studying how informal caregivers, such as a spouse or child, can best be supported in their capacity to deal with grief, loss, and the physiological immune system responses often associated with caring for a loved one. Richardson is working with an international team of researchers to evaluate a recently proposed model of grief counseling, with her results published in a recent issue of Journal of Death and Dying.
Dr. Shantha Balaswamy has conducted a comprehensive evaluation of Ohio Adult Protective Services focused on examining the effectiveness of the service delivery system for older adults who are victims of mistreatment. Recommendations were used to change the service delivery system and to advocate for state funding. This study has been a model for several other states in evaluating their program. Balaswamy also continues to pursue efforts to safe guard older adults, working with the Ohio Coalition For Adult Protective Service to improve the infrastructure for receiving reports of elder mistreatment in Ohio’s 88 counties and working with the Center for Aging with Dignity, the University of Cincinnati, and Ohio State’s College of Nursing, to protect older adults from financial exploitation. With Dabelko-Schoeny, Balaswamy is also involved in a study to assess whether service coordination, as an intervention method, helps increase access to health and social services for older residents in public housing, thereby improving their overall quality of life.
About the College of Social Work
First accredited in 1919, The Ohio State University College of Social Work is the oldest continuously accredited public social work program in the country. The College–through excellence in teaching, research, and service–prepares leaders who enhance individual and community well-being, celebrate difference, and promote social and economic justice for vulnerable populations. The college fosters social change through collaboration with individuals, families, and communities to build strengths and resolve complex individual and social problems. As an internationally recognized College, it builds and applies knowledge that positively impacts Ohio, the nation, and the world. The College’s vision is to “embrace difference, seek justice, and be the change.”
For more information about the College of Social Work, visit csw.osu.edu.