The Buehler Center on Aging, Health & Society was established in 1982 in response to an increasing need for expertise on aging. It was renamed in honor of the Buehler family in 1990. Although there are approximately 100 centers on aging in the United States, the Buehler Center is one of only a few that are affiliated with a medical school. As part of a not-for-profit organization, the Buehler Center's continued success is largely supported by the generosity of our dedicated philanthropic base.
The mission of the Buehler Center is to improve the quality of life and quality of care for older adults, the terminally ill, and other vulnerable populations through education and research. We seek to achieve this mission by:
Some of our key areas of focus to meet these objectives are described below.
High impact education dissemination:
One of our flagship educational programs and crowning achievements is the highly successful Education in Palliative and End-of-life Care (EPEC®) Program. The EPEC Program has provided palliative care education to over 1 million health professionals nationally and internationally through conferences and online learning. Several groups have partnered with us to bring tailored versions of the project to their own specialties. The EPEC Program has become a model for disseminating high-impact medical information that can bridge the gap that exists between new knowledge and actual change. We are intensely proud of this project and all its related projects, which include EPEC - Oncology, EPEC - Emergency Medicine, EPEC - Pediatrics, EPEC for Veterans, EPEC - India, and others. EPEC also provides translational instruction on how to bridge the classroom-to-practice divide through educational programs on practice improvement, teaching skills, and quality in our Professional Development Workshops.
Another area of involvement spawned by our work in education is patient safety. The Patient Safety Education Program™ (PSEP) provides a curriculum-driven high impact education and training intervention for interdisciplinary teams of health care providers. With the support and engagement of some of the field’s most prestigious leaders, including Dr. Harvey Fineberg, MD, President, Institute of Medicine; Lucian Leape, MD, MPH, Harvard School of Public Health, the father of patient safety in the United States; and an Advisory Group of highly experienced editors and writers, we have built a curriculum that is now recognized internationally as one of the foremost educational programs in patient safety and practice improvement training. With support from the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, PSEP - Canada is currently being disseminated throughout all of the provinces in Canada. More recent collaboration with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and its Partnership for Patients Program incorporates PSEP within the national effort to reduce all hospital errors by 40% by the end of 2013 through our work with the National Content Developer and the Hospital Engagement Networks.
Programs: The Buehler Center fosters an interdisciplinary group of researchers, educators, and clinicians that is organized into five core programs:
Whole person consideration and care:
Palliative care and geriatrics: The Buehler Center was at the forefront of bringing palliative care into harmony with geriatrics and gerontology. Palliative care and end-of-life care may be related but they can also provide different aspects of care. Palliative care brings quality of life and whole-person care to people at all stages of serious illness and geriatrics and gerontology encompass health as well as illness. We sought to combine palliative care with geriatrics and gerontology in order to bring optimal quality of life to older adults at all stages of illness. Centers and clinical services for older adults throughout the nation are, like the Buehler Center, integrating these disciplines. We are proud to have been part of that growth.
A focus on family caregivers: Another enduring theme in the Buehler Center is our research and focus on the experience of family caregivers. This has been a priority for the Buehler Center and it has been clear from research that although family caregivers are essential for the care of patients, they also sustain a considerable burden and are both financially and medically at risk themselves. We have been able to initiate a number of projects to answer questions about informal caregivers: Who are they? What are their needs? Who, if anyone, takes care of them? What determines how much they sacrifice and how resilient they are? What determines how well they care for their family member and do they find gratification by providing care? Our work in this area is still in its early stages, but we are proud to have helped to put the field on the map and to be engaged in gathering answers to its core questions.