Unihealth Grant to Address Workforce Shortage

Last Updated July 20, 2021

California has a rapidly aging population that grows larger each year. Geriatric Social Workers are an important resource
for meeting many of the services and support needs experienced by aging Californians and their families. The Partners in
Care Foundation has received a $300,000 grant from the UniHealth Foundation that will make it possible over the next
three years to train additional geriatric social workers through its partnership with the Geriatric Social Work Education
Consortium (GSWEC) of Southern California.

The UniHealth Foundation is a non-profit philanthropic organization whose mission it is to support and facilitate
activities that significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities within its service area.
GSWEC consists of the eight graduate schools of social work in Southern California plus twelve of the leading regional
agencies serving older adults and their families.

According to GSWEC co-chair June Simmons, the organization is heavily focused on workforce development, training
social workers to meet not just today’s needs, but those that will be faced by older adults in the future as well.

“Unihealth has stepped up to address a looming workforce shortage through this three-year grant,” said Simmons. “It
expands the number of students GSWEC can recruit to 100 per year. It also enables the addition of first year student
placements to the program, along with development of a robust Alumnus program supporting professional learning and
networking/mentoring for GSWEC graduates.”

“If you’re thinking about a social work degree,” Simmons continued, “specializing in geriatrics will provide you with a
skill that is in demand. And that demand grows every year. With the rapidly shifting demographics in California (and all
around the world), there is a great need for specialists to support and lead programs for aging well, managing health and
mental health challenges in older populations and supporting independent living, nursing home diversion.”

At GSWEC’s core is the Geriatric Social Work Internship Program, with a goal of increasing the number of students who
specialize in working with older adults by developing “aging- rich” field internships in the graduate social work education
programs within both Los Angeles and Orange County. It seeks to increase the number of social workers who are
prepared to provide services and to be leaders in the field of aging.

GSWEC’s Internship Program focuses on recruiting top MSW students for their second-year field education during which
they spend nine months, or roughly half their time, in this practicum.  In GSWEC they specialize in geriatric services. 

The Internship Program is available to MSW students who are in both their first and second years of study as required
for their degree. It often pays a stipend to students accepted into the program. Internships are offered through twelve
centers of excellence located throughout the region. Upon graduation, these new professionals become part of the
GSWEC alumni network that offers continuing education and mentoring opportunities to help support long-term
engagement in the geriatric field.

GSWEC’s Internship Program has graduated over 800 students of diverse backgrounds during its twenty years of
existence. With the rapidly shifting demographics in California, across the nation, and around the world, there is a great
need for specialists to support programs for aging well, managing health and mental health challenges in older
populations and supporting independent living, nursing home diversion.

To learn more about the Geriatric Internship Program, or GSWEC, please visit:

The Partners in Care Foundation Mission is to align social care and health care to address the social determinants of
health and equity disparities affecting diverse, under-served and vulnerable populations. We promote the best possible
health and quality of life for those most in need through enhanced self-care and special supports and access to key
resources. Partners is accredited in complex care management by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA)
and was the second community-based organization in the country to achieve this status. Partners is a nationally
recognized leader in developing innovative community and home-based approaches in health promotion, chronic
disease management, and addressing health disparities. Partners has an extensive history in creating, testing, adapting,
and disseminating evidence-based models of care. Founded in 1997, Partners has an annual budget of more than $20
million and over 200 employees throughout California. We provide non-medical home and community-based services,
self-management education, medication safety screening, and outreach and care coordination for 20,000 individuals
annually. For more information about the agency, please visit www.picf.org.

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