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Alzheimer's Association Launches Pilot Program to Connect Dementia Care Experts with Assisted Living Communities
09-18-2018

CHICAGO, September 18, 2018 – The Alzheimer’s Association is launching an innovative pilot program today aimed at enhancing the care people living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias receive in assisted living facilities. Modeled after Project ECHO® (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) – a “telementoring” program that uses videoconferencing technology to share information – the new pilot will connect dementia care experts with leaders from assisted living communities across the country. The six-month program will combine bi-weekly presentations with interactive case studies to help enhance person-centered, high quality dementia care in community-based settings.

“The Alzheimer’s Association is excited about leveraging the ECHO model™,” said Morgan Daven, senior director, health systems, Alzheimer’s Association.  “It allows us to create an ongoing dialogue between dementia care experts and those on the front lines providing care to individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Project ECHO provides not only an opportunity for dementia experts to share their insights, but also a forum to explore real case studies from the field to better address the common challenges facing communities providing dementia care.”

Project ECHO, developed by the University on New Mexico in 2003, was first used to train primary care clinicians in rural communities to treat patients with hepatitis C. Subsequent studies found that hepatitis C care provided by Project ECHO trained community providers resulted in outcomes equal to those provided by specialists at a university. Since then, the model has been used to educate providers and improve care for other complex conditions, including: HIV, tuberculosis, chronic pain, endocrinology and behavioral health disorders. This will be one of the first models used to improve quality dementia care in long-term and community-based settings.

“The ECHO model has a proven track record of success,” Daven said.  “It will enable us to disseminate the latest and greatest research and recommendations for dementia care to communities in a timely and efficient manner. Communities will be able to use this information to improve care for people living with dementia. Ultimately, we would like to expand this pilot program across the country.

The six-month pilot program will consist of 12 sixty-minute sessions. Designed specifically for leaders and staff from assisted living communities, the sessions will examine content areas put forth in the Alzheimer’s Association Dementia Care Practice Recommendations released earlier this year. The recommendations, developed by dementia care experts, emphasize person-centered care and are based on a comprehensive review of current evidence, best practice, and expert opinion. Key topics addressed in the sessions, include:

  • Fundamentals of person-centered dementia care
  • Detection and diagnosis for nonphysicians
  • Person-centered assessment and care planning
  • Co-morbidities and medical management for nonphysicians
  • Information, education and support needs of individuals living with dementia and caregivers
  • Evidence-based nonpharmacological practices
  • Progressive support for activities of daily living
  • Building and supporting the workforce
  • Supportive and therapeutic environments
  • Interventions for transitions in care
  • Evaluating person-centered practices

The Alzheimer’s Association is partnering with the New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) to evaluate the initial pilot. NYAM created the first-ever evaluation toolkit and resource guide for users of the ECHO model in 2016. The evaluation will assess key areas including process, impact and sustainability. The Alzheimer’s Association will use the evaluation to inform and enhance future offerings of the program.

In addition to having ongoing engagement with dementia care leaders, pilot participants will have open access to resources provided during the program and will receive a certificate upon completion. Sixteen assisted-living facilities are participating, including Senior Resource Group community Maravilla Santa Barbara. The pilot program is offered free of charge to participants. Individual donors Bill and Susan Thomas and Robert and Jill Thomas are funding the assisted living pilot program.  

A companion pilot aimed at health care providers is also being launched. It will focus on resources and information relevant to clinical practice and is aimed at helping primary care clinicians not specialized in dementia care, better diagnose, care and support individuals living with Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

About the Alzheimer’s Association

The Alzheimer’s Association is the leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer's care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. Visit alz.org or call 800.272.3900.

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