Schmeiding caregiver program opens in Fort Smith

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation on Thursday (Jan. 24) formally opened the Schmieding Home Caregiver Training Program in Fort Smith.

The program is designed to provide new opportunities for the elderly to stay in their homes as they age.

Developed in Northwest Arkansas in partnership with UAMS, the Schmieding caregiver training program 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 Donald W. Reynolds Foundation to the Arkansas Aging Initiative of UAMS enabled the initial replication of the Schmieding program.

Between 2009 and 2012, sites were established in Jonesboro, Pine Bluff, Texarkana and West Memphis. In 2012 the Reynolds foundation gave UAMS a phase II grant of $7.7 million to continue the initial programs and to add sites in Fort Smith, Little Rock, Hot Springs and El Dorado.

All eight programs are expected to be operational by October 2013.

The Fort Smith program is located in the West Central Center on Aging, at 512 S. 16th St.

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 (18.7%) of people older than 60, according to a statement from UAMS.

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Since its inception, the UAMS 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.

The Donald W. Reynolds Foundation is a national philanthropic organization founded in 1954 by the late media entrepreneur for whom it was named. Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nev., it has committed more than $230 million to improving the lives of elderly people throughout the United States.

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