Study Suggests Telephone-based Care Coordination Intervention Complements Care for Veterans with Dementia and Supports their Caregivers
VA supports innovative approaches to comprehensive care for more than half a million Veterans with dementia. This article provides a detailed description of a telephone-based care coordination intervention - Partners in Dementia Care (PDC) - developed for Veterans with dementia and their family caregivers across all stages of the disease. The PDC has four key features: 1) formal partnerships between VA medical centers and Alzheimer's Association Chapters; 2) a multidimensional assessment and treatment approach, 3) ongoing monitoring and long-term relationships with families; and 4) a computerized information system to guide service delivery and fidelity monitoring. The PDC intervention also incorporates two key staff positions: a VA Dementia Care Coordinator (VA DCC), and an Alzheimer's Association Care Consultant (AA CC). This study focused on 93 Veterans and their informal family caregivers who completed 12 months in the PDC intervention. Survey data from Care Coordinators also were assessed.
Findings show that, overall, the PDC intervention addresses the diverse needs of Veterans with dementia and their caregivers, including non-medical care issues such as understanding VA benefits, accessing community resources, and addressing caregiver strain. The authors also note that the PDC intervention incorporates several unique features that distinguish it from most other services and programs for dementia caregiving, such as the delivery of the intervention through formal partnerships between VAMCs and local Alzheimer's Association Chapters, the inclusion of family caregivers, and the breadth of issues addressed for both Veterans and their caregivers. The consumer-directed philosophy of the program enabled Care Coordinators to serve a large number of families in a cost-efficient way, since Veterans and families were taking action on their own with support and guidance from VA DCCs and AA CCs.
Judge K, Bass D, Snow L, Wilson N, Morgan R, Looman W, McCarthy C, and Kunik M. Partners in dementia care: A care coordination intervention for individuals with dementia and their family caregivers. The Gerontologist January 17, 2011;e-pub ahead of print.
This study was partly funded by HSR&D (IIR 04-238). Drs. Wilson and Kunik are part of HSR&D's Houston Center for Quality of Care & Utilization Studies.