Alzheimer's disease and related dementias (ADRD) are an urgent healthcare challenge facing 21st Century America. In the U.S. in 2011, one person received an ADRD diagnosis every 68 seconds; by 2050, that number will be one every 33 seconds (Alzheimer's Disease Facts and Figures, 2010). ADRD are the third most costly disease sets in the U.S. In spite of ongoing research efforts, at present there is no way to prevent onset, decline, or death related to ADRD. Hospitalization is especially difficult for peopl with dementia (PWD) and their family members and presents special care challenges to staff. Acute care is complicated because symptoms of dementia are often exacerbated by illness and a new environment. There are few studies in the literature of the effects of dementia care on non-professional hospital employees, but studies in long-term care and home settings suggest that the difficulties associated with ADRD care cause stress, burden, and lack of job satisfaction in paid caregivers. In the acute-care hospital setting, nursing assistants and other non-professional allied health workers (NA/AHWs) such as dietary aides, transportation employees, and medical technologists, generally interact with PWD without specialized dementia-care training. Studies in long-term care suggest that education and skill training in dementia care will result in measurable positive effects on staff, including greater knowledge, sense of competence and job satisfaction and improved productivity due to reduced illness, sick days and lateness. This Fast Track effort aims to create a video-based, interactive, online dementia-care training program for NA/AHWs working in hospitals. The completed product will consist of 12 one-hour modules that will include real-life and role- played scenarios illustrating the effects of standard and best practices in the acute-care setting and interviews with experts. The effort will be completed in conjunction with the Alzheimer's Association and researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center. Hospital staff, schools for CNA-AHWs, unions and individual trainees as well as hospitals will gain convenient, consistent, 24/7, national access (both urban and rural) to top-quality dementia training as well as an individual certification program anticipated to be accredited by the Alzheimer's Association. The Phase II Randomized Control Trial (RCT) research evaluation will include knowledge gained, job satisfaction, productivity, stress, self-esteem and understanding of communication with PWD and family members. An expert multidisciplinary national team of consultants will guide the content development and program evaluation. In addition to its strong commercial potential (applicants have commercialized 100% of their SBIR awards during the past decade), the proposed effort has the capacity to benefit NA/AHWs and the PWD for whom they care in rural as well as urban venues as diverse as community and minute clinics, urgent care centers, and physicians' offices, where quality dementia training resources are scarce.

Public Health Relevance

This Fast Track effort develops and evaluates an online educational training program that will make the best practices in dementia care available to direct care and ancillary personnel in hospitals across the nation. As far as we are aware, there is no such training available on the internet for these essential employees of the hospital, who have such an important role to play in providing comfort and care. A hospital workforce trained in dementia friendly person-centered care may make a large positive impact on outcomes. This effort is highly relevant to U.S. public health because the oldest old is the fastest growing population in the United States, the most likely to undergo an acute hospitalization, and the most at risk for chronic dementia. This project will also evaluate evidence for the effectiveness of delivery of online training for the hospital workforce.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Small Business Innovation Research Grants (SBIR) - Phase II (R44)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Haaga, John G
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Healthcare Interactive, Inc.
United States
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Hobday, John V; Gaugler, Joseph E; Mittelman, Mary S (2017) Feasibility and Utility of Online Dementia Care Training for Hospital Staff: The CARES® Dementia-Friendly Hospital™ Program. Res Gerontol Nurs 10:58-65