The six-month program will connect memory care experts with leaders and staff members at the communities via bi-weekly, one-hour videoconference presentations.

Sixteen assisted living operators across 12 states and the nation’s capital have signed on to help test a program that could enhance the care of residents with dementia, the Alzheimer’s Association announced Tuesday.

The six-month program will connect researchers and other memory care experts with leaders and staff members — executive directors, administrators, dietary managers, directors of nursing, social workers and certified nursing assistants — at the communities via bi-weekly, one-hour videoconference presentations that will examine content areas that were part of the Dementia Care Practice Recommendations released in January by the association. The pilot also will include interactive case studies.

The program is modeled on Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), developed by the University on New Mexico in 2003 and since used to educate providers and improve care related to hepatitis C, HIV, tuberculosis, chronic pain, endocrinology and behavioral health disorders.

“The ECHO model has a proven track record of success,” said Morgan Daven, senior director of health systems for the Alzheimer’s Association. “It will enable us to disseminate the latest and greatest research and recommendations for dementia care to communities in a timely and efficient manner. Communities will be able to use this information to improve care for people living with dementia.”

The New York Academy of Medicine, which created the first evaluation toolkit and resource guide for users of the ECHO model in 2016, will evaluate the initial pilot’s process, impact and sustainability.

“We will use this evaluation to make any adjustments necessary to the scope, curriculum or participation qualifications for the expansion,” Daven told McKnight’s Senior Living. “The overall goal is to continue building a national program and have ECHO be an integral part of the Alzheimer’s Association’s service delivery.”

The 16 assisted living communities that are participating in the pilot free of charge were chosen based on the Alzheimer’s Association’s existing relationships with the companies and with other national organizations, Daven said. They are:

  1. The Admiral at the Lake, Chicago (The Kendal Corp.)
  2. Ahoskie House, Ahoskie, NC (Affinity Living Group)
  3. Arden Courts of Winter Springs, Winter Springs, FL (HCR ManorCare)
  4. Brandywine Living at Pennington, Pennington, NJ (Brandywine Living)
  5. Brighton Gardens of St. Charles, St. Charles, IL (Sunrise Senior Living)
  6. Brightview Canton, Canton, MA (Brightview Senior Living)
  7. Brookdale Westlake Village, Westlake, OH (Clare Bridge Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Program, Brookdale Senior Living)
  8. The Chelsea at Tinton Falls, Tinton Falls, NJ (Chelsea Senior Living)
  9. Dublin Retirement Village, Dublin, OH (Senior Star)
  10. Forest Hills of DC / Forest Side Memory Care, Washington, D.C.
  11. Granite Ledges of Concord, Concord, NH (Genesis Healthcare)
  12. Juniper Village at Brookline, State College, PA (Wellspring Memory Care, Juniper Communities)
  13. Liberty Heights, Colorado Springs, CO (Senior Lifestyle)
  14. Maravilla, Santa Barbara, CA (Senior Resource Group)
  15. Silverado Kingwood, Kingwood, TX (Silverado)
  16. St. Paul Elder Services, Kaukauna, WI

“The Project ECHO model represented an exciting new opportunity to discuss and collaborate with our fellow providers on our practices related to person-centered dementia care,” Juliet Holt Klinger, senior director of dementia care for Brookdale, told McKnight’s Senior Living. “We are excited to have our Clare Bridge communities share their knowledge in this new collaborative effort.”

Liz Plozner Chalfa, executive director of Juniper Village at Brookline, told McKnight’s Senior Living: “Juniper Village is excited to partner in Projects ECHO with the Alzheimer’s Association and other communities. We look forward to having the opportunity  to collaborate with other professionals in the healthcare community. Project ECHO will allow us to further develop customize care for those living with dementia while providing education with real-life case studies.”

A companion pilot project will aim to help primary care clinicians who do not specialize in dementia care improve their diagnosis, care and support people who have dementia.

Updated Sept. 20 to include comments from the Alzheimer’s Association and Juniper Communities.

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