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Springfield College School of Social Work Presents Conference on Social Work Practice with Older Adults

March 25, 2010

SPRINGFIELD, Mass., March 25, 2010 – As the field of social work confronts the expanding range of geriatric services needed by the increasing population of people over age 65, the Springfield College School of Social Work presented a conference for social work professionals on March 25, 2010, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Springfield College Brennan Center.

Supported by an Appleton Fund Grant, the conference was designed to focus attention on gerontology in social work, to identify significant needs of older adults, and to stimulate involvement of local social workers in a Community of Practice (COP).

At the conference, the SSW launched the COP, which was developed during the past year by the SSW Advisory Board. The goals of the COP are to develop an inter-organizational continuum that can positively influence the region’s system of elder services.

Keynote speaker at the conference, Corinne H. Reider, Ed.D., executive director of the John A. Hartford Foundation, gave the keynote presentation, “Improving the Health Care of America’s Older Adults through Social Work.” The foundation is dedicated to improving health care for older Americans. Other sessions addressed important topics in social work for the elderly.

Barbara Z. Perman, Ph.D., of Moving Mentor, Inc., discussed trends in care giving for the elderly, especially the roles of adult children, and what people are doing to prepare for and cope with this role.

“Compulsive Hoarding and Acquiring Among the Elderly” was the topic of Alicia Hussey, MSW, LCSW, of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, Inc. She addressed the causes, risks and clinical treatment of compulsive hoarding by older adults.

John W. Bennett, Ph.D., and Linda R. Stone, MSW, of Massachusetts Senior Action Council, presented on ageism, its extent and causes and ways to combat it.

Presenting an “Overview of Elder Suicide Prevention in the Community” was Dr. Kerry Morrison and Janet Simeone, of Hawthorn Services, Inc. Their presentation combined information from some of the best national and regional suicide prevention programs including QPR, American Association of Suicidology’s Core Competencies, Campus Connect and The Samaritans of Merrimack Valley.

Kathleen Bowen and Karina Bogdanis, of Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts, and Janet Rodriguez Denney, of the Springfield Department of Elder Affairs, described services available to minority elders in the Springfield area.

“Wraparound Services for Seniors in the Community” was the topic of Mary Beth Dowd, clinical director of Greater Springfield Senior Services, Inc. She described services available to seniors in Greater Springfield as an alternative to skilled nursing facility placement and how to access them, and what is being developed as alternatives to institutionalization.

The conference was the first program within the new SSW gerontology area of emphasis. Last year, the school received a $10,000 grant from the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) Gero-Ed Center to develop a competency-based aging-specific curriculum during 2009-2011. It was one of 20 schools to receive such grants.

The grant supports the SSW’s development of the new gerontology area of emphasis, which will launch this fall 2010. Gero-education co-directors are Assistant Professor John Habif and Professor Ann Roy. For the new gerontology area of emphasis, the SSW is increasing its network of cooperating community agencies that provide specialized gerontology training, fieldwork and career opportunities for its students. The school is also developing additional gerontology content for its academic program, and is expanding its faculty expertise in geriatric social work.

In 2008, SSW Dean Francine Vecchiolla was selected to participate in the inaugural seminar of The Leadership Academy in Aging which focuses on building the capacity to address the needs of America’s aging population. The Academy is a joint venture of The New York Academy of Medicine’s Social Work Leadership Institute (SWLI) and the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work, with support from the John A. Hartford Foundation.

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