Dr. Valerie Gruss Receives 2018 Judith L. Storfjell Distinguished Award for Scholarly Practice

Photo of Dr. GrussValerie A. Gruss, PhD, CNP-BC has been awarded the UIC College of Nursing Judith Lloyd Storfjell Distinguished Award for Scholarly Practice.  The award recognizes a UIC College of Nursing faculty or alumnus who has made an outstanding contribution to nursing practice. Gruss was recognized for a career of work that is changing the face of care for aging adults.

Leading creation of online training for healthcare professionals

As co-PI on a $2.5 million a HRSA Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program (GWEP) grant, Gruss has led the creation and ongoing operation of a geriatric education program for primary care professionals. Her online program, Enhancement of Geriatric Care for All through Training and Empowerment: An Inter-professional Imperative (ENGAGE-IL), provides specialty geriatric clinical content informed by multiple UIC health science faculty, all in an effort to increase the number of healthcare professionals with the attitudes, knowledge and skills to deliver patient-centered care to older adults. The online program -- which offers free continuing education credits to nurses, physicians, pharmacists, social workers and occupational therapists -- helped train more than 1,300 clinicians in its first nine months following launch.

Developing mobile apps for educating families, patients, more

Also as part of the HRSA award, Gruss created a consumer focused mobile app called the "Dementia Guide Expert for Families." The app, available for free for iOS and Android, helps to educate families, caregivers, direct care workers, health professions students, faculty, providers and the general public about Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. During its first six months, the app was viewed/downloaded over 3,000 times in six different countries. Now, the app is being translated into Spanish, and Gruss has developed a second free mobile app called Behavioral Symptoms of Dementia, which translates an evidence-based algorithm into training to assist caregivers in managing people with dementia symptoms. It too has been downloaded in countries around the world.

Participating in Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI)

More recently, Gruss became the first nurse ever to join the eight-member interdisciplinary team of Chicago-area professionals with expertise in caring for the aging who participate in the annual Chicago Sister Cities International (CSCI) Social Services Exchange Program. She and the team traveled to China in October 2017 to tour comprehensive community care centers, senior centers, dementia care centers, long-term care facilities, and medical and public health facilities, all in an effort to learn as much as possible from a city where already roughly 17 percent of the population is over age 60.

Helping transition from nursing homes to community

Gruss, a clinical associate professor of biobehaviorial health science, is also the lead clinical consultant on a Federal Demonstration Project for the State of Illinois, "Money Follows the Person/Pathways to Community Living," which transitions eligible seniors out of nursing homes and back to the community. The program has assisted more than 2,300 individuals and resulted in Illinois being awarded a $55.7 million in enhanced Medicaid reimbursements over five years (2007-2011).