KCON awarded grant to fund senior onsite care

<p>Courtesy - Kelley Monterusso</p>

Kelley Monterusso

Courtesy - Kelley Monterusso

McKenna Peariso

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Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof College of Nursing will soon be providing onsite care to older area residents who are income-eligible or disabled. Two locations will be offering the program starting this month including Reflections, a senior housing community, and Mount Mercy Apartments. The new care project, in collaboration with the nurse-managed GVSU Family Health Center, is being funded by a $493,690 grant from the Michigan Health Endowment Fund. 

“This grant is really exciting because it aligns with both of the Health Fund’s cross-cutting goals: workforce and integration,” said Senior Program Officer for the Health Fund Kari Sederburg. 

The GVSU Family Health Center will help deploy teams of faculty and students from nursing, physical therapy, occupational therapy, clinical dietetics and social work to collaborate on the treatment and evaluation of elderly participants. Sederberg believes this integration of workforce collaboration between different health professions and senior living complexes, while educating students, is beneficial to the participants and the public health of the community.

“It’s a win-win for students and for older adults in the community,” Sederberg said. “It will provide training for students and access to necessary healthcare that older adults may not otherwise be able to afford.”

The increased care services for local seniors is also projected to decrease number of falls and emergency room visits, improve medication tracking and delay nursing home placements while reducing financial costs. Providing accessible care to seniors that supports aging in place will allow them more independence and improve their overall wellness.

“This the first grant the Health Fund has provided to Grand Valley and we are really excited to partner with them on this important initiative,” Sederberg said.

The Health Endowment Fund focuses its efforts on reducing healthcare costs while improving the health and wellness of all residents with a special emphasis on seniors. The fund supports many organizations in Michigan that address health challenges both local and large, urban to rural areas and make improvements through evidence-based work.  

Two programs are administered by the Health Fund to improve the health and wellness of Michigan communities, Healthy Aging and Special Projects & Emerging Ideas. These programs provide $14 million in awards to Michigan organizations improving and facilitating quality healthcare practices and ideas. The Healthy Aging initiative funded GVSU’s new healthcare program in order to integrate the broader healthcare landscape to improve geriatric care. 

“We support projects that improve access to care, allow Michigan residents to age in place, and help communities build a culture of emotional support for older adults,” Sederberg said.

Two local nonprofits, the Dwelling Place and the Grand Rapids Housing Commission (GRHC), are partnering with GVSU on the new onsite care project. The Dwelling Place, located on Sheldon in downtown Grand Rapids, currently provides support services and affordable housing while the GRHC serves low-income housing. Both nonprofits will be working closely with GVSU to provide transportation, onsite care and other services to eligible seniors in the area. 

“Michigan’s population is aging, and as a state we must adapt to support older adults and those who care for them,” Sederberg said.