Since 2011, the Center for Aging Research and Education (CARE) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing has collaborated with community partners to apply nursing expertise and scholarship to the issues facing older adults and those who care for them.

Responding to a growing need, CARE developed manuals, train-the-trainer sessions and online resources about supporting the healthy aging of adults with intellectual disability. We adapted the information for online courses geared towards group home staff, working with the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and UW Division of Continuing Studies. CARE’s materials are the first offered by Wisconsin to meet a training requirement.

CARE founded a growing community of faculty, staff and students interested in older adult health. The CARE Network encourages innovation and collaboration in teaching, scholarship and community engagement. Through the Network, CARE has developed new clinical education scenarios addressing common geriatric issues, expanded aging-related student activities on campus and in the community, and provided key support to adapt an evidence-based exercise program for older adults in rural areas and in African American communities in Wisconsin.

CARE organizes nursing-focused and inter-professional educational events for students, healthcare professionals and direct care staff. We developed the first inter-professional, community-based learning course on person-centered care for people living with dementia, where students volunteer with agencies supporting people with dementia and their families, in addition to the usual coursework.

Traditional residency programs have been shown to increase nursing staff retention and improve care, but are beyond the capacity of many long-term care providers to implement. CARE developed Geri-Res, a 16-week online residency program for nurses entering long-term care, with tracks for nursing home, assisted living and home health care settings. Our approach allows smaller and more rural organizations to benefit from nurse residencies.

To support healthy aging-in-place and the family caregivers who make that possible, CARE developed Agefully, an online tool to provide evidence-based guidance. It will help users develop caregiving skills, anticipate and prepare for likely changes, explore options and improve older adult quality of life.