Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC)
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What are the GRECCs?
The Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Centers (GRECCs) are VA geriatric centers of excellence focused on aging. They were established by Congress in 1975 in order to improve the health and health care of older Veterans. They are located at 20 medical centers across the country and each is connected with a major research university. The GRECCs have three main missions:
- To build new knowledge in geriatric care through research
- To improve health care for older Veterans through the development of innovative clinical models of care
- To provide training and education on best practices in caring for older adults for students in healthcare disciplines and VA staff
To learn more about VA services, supports and resources for older Veterans and those with extended care needs and their families, visit www.va.gov/GERIATRICS.
Aging affects the body, the mind, physical functioning, and the person’s role in society. Scientific research is the key to understanding these processes and to using the knowledge to keep people as healthy and active as possible as they age. The GRECCs carry out a wide variety of research projects about aging. Some examine how cells and tissues change during aging. Others look at the effects of specific diseases like Alzheimer’s disease or traumatic brain injuries. Various GRECC research projects also look at the effects of new treatments while health services research projects try to determine how the health care system can adapt in order to meet the needs of older Veterans.
All VA staff have contact with older Veterans, and therefore need to have necessary knowledge and skills. For instance, problems with memory and thinking can impact Veterans’ ability to follow treatment plans or receive care. Medications must be used with more caution in older patients. One of the main GRECC missions is to ensure that VA staff are prepared to work with older Veterans. The GRECCs provide training to VA staff, community health care providers, Veterans, and caregivers across many settings, using various methods such as live, online and recorded lectures, and printed materials. The GRECCs also evaluate how well their educational programs have met the need for training.
VA serves the health needs of older Veterans through numerous clinical programs. With a changing population and advances in knowledge, there is always room for improvement. The GRECCs develop and test new models of care that can be exported to other sites at VA. These are known as clinical innovations. Each GRECC carries out several such projects and many have been used around the country. They provide a way to ensure that older Veterans receive up-to-date and effective health care.