Community Health Equity
The Rush Center for Excellence in Aging is committed to improving community health outcomes and contributing to the elimination of health inequities among older adults in Chicago and beyond. The Center’s efforts are part of city-, state- and worldwide initiatives to accommodate changing demographics as the population ages as well as part of realizing Rush’s community health strategy.
Age-Friendly and Dementia-Friendly Communities
Rush is working toward becoming an Age-Friendly Health System, following a model developed by The John A. Hartford Foundation and the Institute for Healthcare Improvement. Expanding this program into the community will empower older adults, their families, and the community based organizations that serve them to actively participate in this evidence-based model.
Partnering with the Illinois Cognitive Resources Network, the West Side Health Collaborative and the City of Chicago Well-Being Taskforce, the Center is helping shape Chicago into an age-friendly and dementia-friendly city, and Illinois into an age-friendly state.
By bolstering initiatives to maintain Chicago as an age-friendly community, the Center plays a vital role in improving the ability of Chicagoans of all ages to live healthy, independent lives in their communities. And by supporting efforts to create a Dementia Friendly Illinois, the Center will help engage those who often feel left out of community efforts to promote well-being by improving the day-to-day lives of individuals with dementia and their support systems.
The CEA and Rush’s Community Health Plan
The Rush Center for Excellence in Aging helps ensure that Rush’s community needs assessment and implementation plans focus on aging-related issues and identify lessons learned from past efforts.
As an institution, Rush impacts the health of Chicagoans by conducting community health needs assessments and community health implementation plans. Currently Rush is focusing on these primary goals:
- Reducing inequities caused by the social, economic and structural determinants of health
- Improving access to mental and behavioral health services
- Preventing and reducing chronic disease
- Increasing access to care and community services
To help reduce health inequities, Rush has zeroed in on the following:
- Improving educational attainment
- Identifying, measuring and mitigating the social determinants of health among those at risk
- Participating in regional community health improvement collaboratives
Other Current Community Initiatives
Members of the Center for Excellence in Aging participate in community health education programs that empower older adults to live healthier lives. In addition, they offer training and consultations behind the scenes to improve community health. Below are some examples.
Dementia Friendly Network (RADC)
The Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center currently provides educational programming for staff who work in senior housing facilities, continuing care retirement communities and nursing homes.
Rush University College of Nursing Student Projects
Students in Rush University’s College of Nursing programs consistently do projects in the community with older adults populations. Recent projects: students assessing certified nurse assistant recruitment, development and retention; health promotion projects at senior centers; and collaborations with the Rush Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
This program is part of a larger system at Rush called the Center for Health Equity. RCSIP provides opportunities for community service for Rush students at multiple sites on the West side. Sites providing care for older adults are the Lighthouse for the Blind, Oakley Square, Franciscan House and Haymarket Center.