Hot off the press: Two new resources

Here’s help in choosing providers, ensuring quality

The Alzheimer’s Association in Chicago has developed two new resources to help ensure that Alzheimer’s patients receive better care in the future. Those resources include a staff training program centered on what it calls the Alzheimer’s Care Enrichment (ACE) philosophy and a book that helps define quality Alzheimer’s care. (See box, p. 150, for the ACE philosophy.)

ACE focuses on the need to individualize care for each patient and has four "cornerstones" that should help promote better quality of life for Alzheimer’s patients, says Cheryl L. Ritzi, director of education services for the association. Those include:

• Care provided to persons with Alzheimer’s disease must be individualized, reflecting the individual’s concerns, life history, meaning, relationships, emotions, thoughts, current needs, strengths, and preferences.

• Care of a person with Alzheimer’s disease must demonstrate compassion and concern for the individual.

• Care of the person with Alzheimer’s disease must be directed at enriching the life of the individual through meaningful activities and relationships.

• Promoting autonomy for the person with Alzheimer’s disease remains essential through all stages of the disease.

At the Alzheimer’s Association’s recent national education meeting, roughly 200 health care professionals attended the ACE educational program. "The program is designed to help nurses assume a leadership position to lead their staffs to provide more appropriate care for Alzheimer’s patients," Ritzi says. "We realize that there are issues such as state and federal regulations and corporate structure that sometimes create barriers to change in patient care, but we’re trying to give nurses the momentum for change — the tools to work with management to create positive change in Alzheimer’s care programs."

The association also recently released the book, Key Elements of Dementia Care, to help define and illustrate quality Alzheimer’s care in residential settings. "This document should be very useful for case managers in terms of identifying questions they should ask to assess and select providers for Alzheimer’s patients, " says Kara Kennedy, MSW, director of patient and family services for the Alzheimer’s Association. "Although we designed it to help facilities develop better Alzheimer’s care programs, it should help case managers work with families and patients to identify quality care."

Focus care on patients

Some of the guidelines outlined in the book include:

• Specialized Alzheimer’s care programs should have a written statement of their overall philosophy and mission that reflects the needs of residents with Alzheimer’s.

• There should be an effective process for program placement that includes diagnoses verification, needs assessment, and family involvement.

• The plan of care should be resident-oriented, flexible, and include the family.

• Employees, including administrators and non-nursing staff such as housekeeping and kitchen staff, should receive the support of ongoing training programs.

• Physical environment and design features should support the function of cognitively impaired adults.

• Plan of care should evolve and respond to changes in condition.

• Program should continually evaluate the benefits of its specialized Alzheimer’s care.

In addition to Key Elements of Dementia Care, Kennedy says the Alzheimer’s Association plans to offer a family checklist soon. "The checklist will be arranged like a fact sheet. It will be based on the principles in the book but be presented in a user-friendly way for families unfamiliar with nursing home care. We hope it will educate them in what they should look for in placing family members."

The book costs $25. To order, contact the association’s order processing line at (312) 335-5796. Request #PF308Z. The ACE training program soon will be offered through local Alzheimer’s Association chapters nationwide.