Texarkana Becomes State’s 3rd Home Caregiver Training Site Using the Renowned, UAMS-Led Schmieding System

By Jon Parham

Developed in Northwest Arkansas in partnership with UAMS, the Schmieding caregiver training offers four levels of certification for paid caregivers and two workshops for those who provide care to their family members.

A $3,015,565 grant in 2009 from the Reynolds Foundation to the Arkansas Aging Initiative of UAMS has enabled an expansion of the Schmieding program throughout the state. Sites were established first in Jonesboro in April 2010, then Pine Bluff in October.

Those attending today’s ribbon cutting and grand-opening event in Texarkana included Jerry Stringfellow, M.D., of the Texarkana Regional Center on Aging; AmyLeigh Overton-McCoy, director of education at the Texarkana Regional Center on Aging, and
Valerie Alsbrook, a Schmieding caregiver training specialist.
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 Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, the center developed a unique, high-quality caregiver training program specifically for older adults living in their homes.

The Texarkana program is located at the Texarkana Regional Center on Aging at 4010 Jefferson Ave. The center contains a classroom and a learning laboratory that simulates a home environment.

The expansion of the Schmieding program is occurring at a critical time for Arkansas, which ranks seventh nationally in the percentage of people older than 60 (18.7 percent), said Jeanne Wei, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of the UAMS Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging and chair of the Donald W. Reynolds Department of Geriatrics.

“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,” said UAMS’ Robin E. McAtee, Ph.D., R.N., the principal investigator for the Reynolds grant.

The expansion of the Schmieding program is being built on a solid foundation established by the Reynolds Institute on Aging and the Arkansas Aging Initiative, said Claudia Beverly, Ph.D., R.N., associate director of the Reynolds Institute on Aging and director of the Arkansas Aging Initiative, which oversees eight Centers on Aging across Arkansas.
“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.”

Since its inception, the 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 prominent leaders in the fields of aging.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Related Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 540,000-square-foot hospital; a statewide network of regional centers; and six institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 2,836 students and 761 medical residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit www.uams.edu or uamshealth.com.