Coordinating care for people with dementia improves outcomes


A US care coordination programme for patients with Alzheimer's and their carers has resulted in improvements in psychosocial function in patients with dementia. The programme, a partnership between community and health organisations, also showed positive results for carers. The work, published in the journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy, shows that non-pharmacological programmes and interventions can play a role in improving care for people with dementia and their carers. 

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia and has a number of symptoms ranging from memory loss to mood swings and depression. 

Partners in Dementia Care (PDC) is a partnership between healthcare and community agencies that provides care coordination for medical and non-medical needs of both patients and carers.

The programme consisted of assessment and ongoing care goals to facilitate improved cooperation between medical care and community services. Baseline interviews were conducted with 333 patients, 263 of whom completed six-month follow-ups and 194 of whom had 12-month follow-ups. Those on the care programme had significantly less adverse outcomes at six months than those receiving usual care, particularly for more impaired patients. This included: reduced relationship strain and depression; reduced unmet need, and less embarrassment about memory problems. At 12 months, more impaired veterans had further reductions in unmet need.

Co-authors David Bass, from the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, and Mark Kunik, US Department of Veterans Affairs, commented that the programme is delivered primarily by telephone and computer and may be a valuable strategy for serving hard-to-reach rural populations who lack easy access to care.

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