BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The University at Buffalo has announced the
launch of a new international institute designed to meet the unique
needs of one of the most vulnerable populations: persons with
chronic illness, frailty and physical or cognitive impairments.
The Institute for Person-Centered Care -- the first of its kind
in the United States -- is designed to provide better delivery of
services to frail and vulnerable people, particularly the elderly,
and support advocacy and public awareness of their needs, through a
program of cross-disciplinary research, education and practice
"This new interdisciplinary institute will bring together
researchers, educators, health care providers and community-based
programs to develop and disseminate evidence-based care of the
frail and aging citizens in our society," said Alexander N.
Cartwright, UB vice president for research and economic
development. "We are especially proud that this institute will be
the first academic center in the nation to focus on this
Davina C. Porock, PhD, associate dean for research and
scholarship in the UB School of Nursing, will serve as director of
the new interdisciplinary institute, which will involve the UB
schools of Nursing, Public Health and Health Professions, Social
Work and Law, as well as the College of Arts and Sciences.
The John R. Oishei Foundation and UB are providing funding to
"Person-centered care is a revolutionary approach to care for
our rapidly aging population that focuses on humanizing the care of
vulnerable elders especially those with dementia," said Porock.
"In addition to providing high-quality care for physical needs,
the person-centered approach takes psychological and social needs
seriously by respecting and valuing the individual as a whole
person; by individualizing care; by trying to understand the world
from the perspective of the individual; and by providing an
environment that has a supportive social psychology."
The IPCC grew from collaborations between UB faculty members and
the Western New York Alliance for Person-Centered Care, a
grassroots collaborative of skilled-nursing and assisted-living
facilities dedicated to fostering a new approach to caring for
residents in long-term communal living environments. Additional
collaborations also exist between local researchers and researchers
in the United Kingdom and Australia.
The IPCC education and training mission will be managed by
Rhonda Rotterman, a registered nurse, who is board certified in
gerontology and a licensed nursing home administrator. Rotterman
previously served as the executive director of the Western New York
Alliance for Person Centered Care.
"I am excited about the opportunity to develop courses on
person-centered care at UB and help develop the evidence base that
supports what we already know is the right thing to do," Rotterman
said. "If we are to provide quality care and services to vulnerable
individuals, it is paramount that we create a culture of 'positive
aging' that focuses on how individuals can maintain autonomy and a
sense of self, worth and purpose, despite physical or cognitive
impairment. If we are healers, then taking care of the whole human
being should be central to what we do, not just one facet of
"These issues will affect every one of us and those we
Person-centered care is an approach to care that began in
nursing homes where residents, particularly those with dementia,
were found to be disengaged with life and often responding to care
with fear or aggression.
Aimed at alleviating the boredom, loneliness and helplessness
these people often feel, person-centered care, at its most
fundamental, is about ensuring dignity, personhood and purpose for
vulnerable and frail individuals no matter where they live. In
addition to delivering high-quality physical care, it also provides
the emotional and psychological needs of the person who is unable
to satisfy these needs independently.
The IPCC research program will work to develop evidence-based
strategies of care based on and supported by scholarly research in
the field. The institute will focus on education at the
undergraduate and graduate levels, with the goal of eventually
building person-centered care interdisciplinary programs of study
in aging and gerontology.
It also will provide training and specialist topics for staff in
elder-care facilities, hospitals, community-based groups providing
health-care services, and for the public.
In addition, the IPCC will provide leadership training and
practice development, as well as encouraging better delivery of
services to frail and vulnerable people, and support for advocacy
and public awareness efforts.
The institute will be guided by internal and external advisory
groups that will be appointed in the near future.