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HSR&D Citation Abstract

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Caregiver outcomes of partners in dementia care: effect of a care coordination program for veterans with dementia and their family members and friends.

Bass DM, Judge KS, Snow AL, Wilson NL, Morgan R, Looman WJ, McCarthy CA, Maslow K, Moye JA, Randazzo R, Garcia-Maldonado M, Elbein R, Odenheimer G, Kunik ME. Caregiver outcomes of partners in dementia care: effect of a care coordination program for veterans with dementia and their family members and friends. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society. 2013 Aug 1; 61(8):1377-86.

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The objective is to test the effectiveness of Partners in Dementia Care (PDC), a care-coordination program that integrates and improves access to medical and nonmedical services, while strengthening the informal care network and providing information, coaching, and emotional support. PDC was delivered via a partnership between Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers (VAMCs) and Alzheimer's Association chapters, for caregivers of veterans with dementia living in the community and receiving primary care from the VA. The initial sample was 486 caregivers of 508 veterans with diagnosed dementia. Outcomes were evaluated for 394 and 324 caregivers who completed 6- and 12- month follow-up, respectively. PDC had a standardized protocol that included assessment and reassessment, action planning, and ongoing monitoring. It was delivered by telephone and e-mail for cost efficiency and the ability to handle caseloads of 100 to 125. Care coordinators from VAMCs and Alzheimer's Association chapters worked as a team using a shared computerized record. A variety of caregiver outcomes was measured after 6 and 12 months. Intervention group caregivers had significant improvements in outcomes representing unmet needs, three types of caregiver strains, depression, and two support resources. Most improvements were evident after 6 months, with more-limited improvements from Months 6 to 12. Some outcomes improved for all caregivers, whereas some improved for caregivers experiencing more initial difficulties or caring for veterans with more-severe impairments. PDC is a promising model that improves linkages between healthcare services and community services, which is a goal of several new national initiatives such as the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease and a proposed amendment to the Older Americans Act.

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