Partners in Dementia Care

Citation: Bass, D. M., Hornick, T., Kunik, M., Judge, K. S., Primetica, B., Kearney, K., Rentsch, J., Mccarthy, C., & Grim, J. (2019). Findings From a Real-World Translation Study of the Evidence-Based "Partners in Dementia Care". Innovation in aging, 3(3), https://doi.org/10.1093/geroni/igz031

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Background and Objectives

Numerous non-pharmacological programs for family caregivers and persons with dementia (PWDs) have been found efficacious in randomized controlled trials. Few programs have been tested in translation studies that assess feasibility and outcomes in less-controlled, real-world implementations. This translation study tested the impact of the partnership version of BRI Care Consultation, “Partners in Dementia Care (PDC),” on outcomes for PWDs and their family/friend caregivers. PDC was delivered via partnerships between the Louis Stokes Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the Greater East Ohio Alzheimer’s Association Chapter and the Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging. PDC is a personalized coaching program done by telephone, e-mail, and regular mail.

Research Design and Methods

For this translation study, the program was implemented in a manner that mirrored a non-research implementation. The study sample included 148 caregivers and 84 PWDs who used PDC for 12 months. Research data came from 2 structured telephone interviews, one before program implementation and a follow-up after program completion. PWDs and caregivers averaged 14 telephone contacts with Care Consultants over the 12-month study period, and 12 behavioral action steps to address problems or concerns.

Results

Repeated measures ANOVAs showed the use of PDC was related to significant improvements across several outcomes for PWDs and caregivers, with greater benefits in more difficult caregiving situations. Caregivers had decreased levels of isolation, physical health strain, unmet needs; and increased confidence in caregiving capacity, informal helpers, and support service use. PWDs had decreased embarrassment about memory problems and unmet needs; and increased informal support and community service use.

Discussion and Implications

Overall, improved outcomes for PWDs and caregivers in this translation study were similar to findings from previous randomized trials, and affirmed the value of the program when delivered as a regular service offering by health care and community service organizations.

Translational Significance

This pragmatic, translation study implemented and tested the effectiveness of “Partners in Dementia Care” (PDC), a version of the evidence-based program BRI Care Consultation. PDC was delivered as a regular program by three collaborating organizations; a VA Medical Center, an Area Agency on Aging, and an Alzheimer’s Association Chapter. The translational significance stems from the implementation and evaluation of an evidence-based protocol delivered within a “real-world” context, and the establishment of a unique partnership between a large health system and a community service organization. The partnership enabled the program to address a broad array of medical and non-medical issues, which was associated with improvements in variety of outcomes for persons living with dementia and their family or friend caregivers.