Everything’s Coming

Just like a successful relay team in track, a winning health care program sometimes must rely on a well-executed passing of the baton to sustain its work. And if the hand-off goes flawlessly, it can even set up the team to exceed prior performances.

That was certainly the case with ACES, or Advancing Care Excellence for Seniors.

Begun in 2006, with a partnership among the Hartford Foundation, the Independence Foundation, and Laerdal Medical Corporation (makers of SimMan and SimPad), ACES continues to thrive today—three years after Hartford’s funding ended. The grant-funded initiative, guided by M. Elaine Tagliareni, EdD, RN, chief program officer for the National League for Nursing (NLN) when she was on faculty at the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), fosters gerontological nursing education for pre-licensure nursing programs.

Fact: Laerdal Medical, one of the original ACES partners,
is helping spread the ACES case studies by pre-loading the geriatric simulations on its SimPads—the control center used by most nursing programs to run simulation exercises.

The initiative has developed a series of workshops that have provided training for faculty from 300 different nursing programs in 44 states. It also created an innovative set of unfolding geriatric case studies for simulation exercises, and the ACES website has developed excellent resources that nursing faculty can use to teach future nurses how to better care for older adults.

The continuing success and growth can be traced to partners who share the vision and commitment to sustain the program through a funding transition from the Hartford Foundation to the Hearst Foundations in 2011. Hartford made its final grants worth more than $680,000 in 2008, and just as it was ending, the Hearst Foundations stepped in with a $1.2 million, three-year grant.

The Hearst Foundations were interested in investing in nursing, believing “nurses were on the front lines working with the aging population,” says Sarah Thompson Mishurov, program strategy manager for the Hearst Foundations.

For years, Hearst had engaged in a complementary partnership with Hartford by endowing student scholarships at universities with strong programs, including many Hartford Centers
of Excellence in medicine and in nursing as well as social work Practicum Partnership Program sites (Partnering for Better Care for Our Older Veterans). After being introduced to the ACES program and meeting “the highly capable team” at NLN and CCP, Ms. Mishurov says, Hearst began its due diligence on what was ultimately a $1.2 million grant to help disseminate the program through a series of ACES workshops to a total of 20 states. In addition, the Independence Foundation has since provided almost $1.2 million in funding and in kind support, while Laerdal gave $300,000. Independence Blue Cross also made a $180,000 award.

Our experience with ACES clearly demonstrates how commitment, cooperation, and communication among an evolving cast of partners can help a valuable program navigate through a transition and emerge even stronger. We’re so grateful for the partners who are carrying forward this important work.” Amy J. Berman, RN
Senior Program Officer
The John A. Hartford Foundation

“The tremendous success in this has been the adoption of the unfolding case studies as teaching tools,” Ms. Mishurov says. “When professors attend an ACES workshop, they go back to their schools and share with their colleagues this information they’ve learned. And even if professors are unable to attend an ACES workshop, they can easily adopt the tools in the classroom—they’re intuitive, and there are also quite a few very resourceful teaching tools on the website. So it’s sort of a plug-and-play for professors to be able to introduce geriatrics in a much more engaging and interesting way than I think has been done historically.”

By the time its funding ends in 2014, Hearst expects to have helped spread the program through as many as 24 workshops in the target goal of 20 states.

ACES continues to grow. The case studies have proven so successful that MetLife has added $125,000 for Alzheimer’s case studies, and Laerdal gave an additional $100,000 for case studies that will be developed with input from the VA.

As the Hearst funding winds down, Ms. Mishurov says, “…the hope is that the workshops will have been enough to really entrench ACES as a constant in classrooms, and will enable them to roll this out nationally and gain the momentum that it can sustain itself.”

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