More than a dozen of the biggest players in aging services met in Chicago last Thursday to take part in the Alzheimer’s Association’s newly formed Dementia Care Provider Roundtable. The goal of the roundtable is to share best practices from their diverse industry perspectives.
Participants in the roundtable included representatives from Bayada Home Health Care, Brandywine Living, Brightview Senior Living, Brookdale Senior Living (NYSE: BKD) and Comfort Keepers, among several other provider organizations. Juliet Holt Klinger, senior director of dementia care for the Brentwood, Tennessee-based Brookdale (NYSE: BKD), chairs the roundtable.
“When we think of dementia care, we predominately think of care that’s provided in an institutional, residential setting, whether that’s assisted living or a skilled nursing home,” Holt Klinger told Home Health Care News. “Increasingly, we know that most people who are being taken care of and who are living with the disease are being taken care of at home by unpaid caregivers.”
The Dementia Care Provider Roundtable will connect on a quarterly basis and convene in-person twice a year, Beth Kallmyer, vice president of care and support for the Alzheimer’s Association, told HHCN. Among its goals, the roundtable will work to facilitate implementation of the association’s 2018 dementia care practice recommendations, she said.
“It’s really about transferring quality of care and how we implement person-centered care in all long-term care settings,” Kallmyer said. “[Providers] need to have a basic understanding of what person-centered care is so that they can make sure individuals living with dementia are getting the quality of care they deserve.”
About 5.7 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, according to Alzheimer’s Association statistics. By 2050, that number is projected to increase to nearly 14 million individuals.
It is estimated that nearly 60% of older adults with Alzheimer’s or other dementias reside in the community, outside of hospital of clinical settings. Roughly one-quarter of those individuals live alone, with the remainder receiving care from family members and community-based providers.
“It’s a very big market and, with the baby boomers continuing to age, there’s going to be even more people,” Kristin Kingery, Bayada Home Health Care division director, told HHCN. “And for somebody with dementia, it’s really, really important for people to stay in their familiar environment if we’re going to keep them as high-functioning as possible.”
Three-quarters of people with Alzheimer’s dementia are admitted to a nursing home by age 80.
Moorestown, New Jersey-based Bayada developed and implemented a specialized home health aide training program targeting dementia care about four years ago, Kingery said. Since then, more than 1,500 aides have gone through the training, which lasts about six hours and focuses on fundamental dementia education and helping caregivers best manage symptoms.
The program has received overwhelmingly positive feedback in surveys distributed to family members, according to Kingery. Additionally, it has boosted retention rates for home health aide who have completed the training.
“We teach them everything they need to know from just understanding the basic changes in the brain so [dementia] kind of makes sense to them as a disease, to recreational activities in the home to keep people busy and supporting family caregivers,” Kingery said. “Not everyone has the patience or understanding required, so we’re very careful and hand-select the [caregivers] who we know can do it very well.”
In 2018, Alzheimer’s and other dementias will cost the nation an estimated $277 billion, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Costs could rise as high as $1.1 trillion over the next several decades.
While professional aides and clinicians play an important role in the health and well-being of those with Alzheimer’s, unpaid family caregivers also make up a huge portion of the overall care network. Combined, the more than 16 million unpaid family caregivers inside the United States provide an estimated 18.4 billion hours of care, association statistics show.
“Family caregivers can have a really hard time being able to manage,” Kingery said. “If we don’t have in-home care agencies that know how to support the caregiver as well as take really good care of the person with dementia, people will end up going into facilities because there doesn’t seem to be another option.”
Other organizations that participated in the roundtable included Genesis HealthCare (NYSE: GEN), HCR ManorCare, Home Instead Senior Care, Kendal Corp., Life Care Services, Right at Home, Seniorlink, Senior Star, Silverado and Sunrise Senior Living.
“The exciting part of this rountable is to be able to sit down with people from across the entire spectrum, whether that’s assisted living, skilled nursing, home care or home health,” Holt Klinger said. “I think that we’re all dealing with some of the same challenges, certainly.”
Written by Robert Holly