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UAMS Opens Schmieding Caregiver Training Program in Little Rock

UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., left; Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D.; Robin McAtee, Ph.D.; and Claudia Beverly, Ph.D., R.N., use scissors to cut the ribbon on the new Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program facility at UAMS. 
UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., speaks to an audience gathered for the Schmieding opening.

After the opening, guests toured the model rooms in the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging that the Schmieding program will use for training classes.

April 16, 2013 | Providing new opportunities for the elderly to stay in their homes as they age, the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging celebrated the opening April 15 of the Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program in Little Rock.

Developed at the UAMS Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education in Springdale, the caregiver training program offers four levels of certification for paid caregivers and two workshops for those who provide care to their family members.

“This is one of the ways UAMS has directed itself to the social and health needs of the population,” UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D., said. “This is to provide the skills and community settings for individuals and families to be able to stay together when under other circumstances they may not be able to.”

A $3,015,565 grant in 2009 from the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to the Arkansas Aging Initiative of UAMS enabled the initial replication of the Schmieding program. In 2010-11, sites were established in Jonesboro, Pine Bluff, Texarkana, and West Memphis.

In 2012 the Reynolds Foundation gave UAMS a phase II grant of $7.7 million to continue the initial programs and to add sites in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Hot Springs and El Dorado.  The Fort Smith program opened in 2012. Hot Springs will be open in July and El Dorado will be open by October.  

Those attending the ribbon cutting and grand-opening event in Little Rock included  Rahn; Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the Institute on Aging and chair of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics in the UAMS College of Medicine; Claudia Beverly, Ph.D., R.N., associate director of the Institute on Aging and director of the Arkansas Aging Initiative, which oversees nine Centers on Aging across Arkansas; and Robin E. McAtee, Ph.D., R.N., the principal investigator for the Reynolds Foundation grant.

The Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program was inspired by Lawrence H. Schmieding, who had struggled to find competent, compassionate home care for a brother with dementia. In 1998, the Schmieding Foundation donated $15 million to UAMS to establish and construct the Schmieding Center for Senior Health and Education in Springdale. Working in partnership with the Arkansas Aging Initiative, a program of the UAMS Institute on Aging, the center developed a unique, high-quality caregiver training program specifically for older adults living in their homes.

The Little Rock program is located in the UAMS Institute on Aging at 629 S. Jack Stephens Drive. The center contains a classroom and a learning laboratory that simulates a home environment. To learn more about the Schmieding program in Little Rock, visit www.arcaregiving.org or call (501) 526-6500 or (toll free) (877) 762-0015.

The expansion of the Schmieding program is occurring at a critical time for Arkansas, which ranks 10th nationally in the percentage of people older than 60.

“We at UAMS are excited to be part of a program that is so important to Arkansas,” Wei said. “Elder care touches everyone, and it will become more critical as our baby boomers grow older and as an increasing number of aging adults opt for living at home rather than a long-term care facility.”

“Given the growing caregiving needs of our older adult population, this is an opportune time to replicate a proven caregiving educational program to help address these needs,” McAtee said.

The expansion of the Schmieding program is being built on a solid foundation established by the UAMS Institute on Aging and the Arkansas Aging Initiative, Beverly said.

“We now have the infrastructure to help ensure a successful expansion,” Beverly said. “The Arkansas Aging Initiative provides unparalleled access to rural older adults and local health care and community networks.”

The UAMS Schmieding Center in Springdale has trained hundreds of home care workers and has been recognized outside of Arkansas. The Schmieding training method, which may be unique in the United States, has garnered visits to Springdale from representatives of the International Longevity Center and leaders in the fields of aging.

“I want to thank the physicians here at UAMS,” McAtee said. “We’ve had a lot of interest from them about sending their patient families here. They know families need this. We have the training they need to stay in their homes.”

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it was named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, it has committed more than $230 million to improving the lives of elderly people throughout the United States.