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UB School of Social Work to Hold Seminar on Problems of Aging

Release Date: April 25, 2012

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo School of Social Work will hold a seminar from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, April 26, at the Weinberg Campus, 461 John James Audubon Pkwy., Amherst, to look at the development of a "one-stop shop" to care for the sick and elderly.

The seminar will explore the concept of a Town Square for Aging, where professionals would work together in a center made up of 24 health and human service organizations, as well as four colleges and schools at UB, to provide a broad array of services to frail seniors and their families.

Students in a course led by Diane Bessel, an instructor in the UB School of Social Work, have organized the conference, where they will present their research and facilitate a brainstorming session. Nancy J. Smyth, PhD, professor and dean of the UB School of Social Work, will present as well.

"Under Dr. Bessel's leadership, a group of outstanding students has been exploring the research on how to facilitate a vibrant, interprofessional community of caring in this innovative new model for aging," Smyth said. "At this seminar they will share what they've learned with key members of Erie County's non-profit community. Together, all participants will explore how to apply these concepts in the Town Square for Aging."

A Town Square for Aging would present an alternative health care center for seniors, lowering costly dependence on hospitals, nursing homes and specialized long-term care facilities by offering services such as a pharmacy, medical and dental services, and physical therapy in one location.

Such a center also would address transportation issues by reducing the need for seniors to travel from place to place to secure the care they need, Smyth said. Because many doctors and facilities are dispersed throughout a region, seniors and their families often lack affordable and accessible ways to get care because transit systems are not designed for suburban areas, and older men and women outlive the decision to stop driving by six to 10 years.

The Town Square for Aging is expected to be located in Amherst, the Erie County suburb with the highest percentage of seniors.