By Marigrace Becker
The UW Memory & Brain Wellness Center is proud to play a role in the Dementia Action Collaborative (DAC), a public-private partnership committed to implementing the Washington State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. With over 100,000 Washingtonians living with dementia, and another 300,000 people caring for a loved one with dementia, a statewide approach to dementia care and supportive services has never been more crucial.
Convened in April 2016, the DAC involves three subcommittees - Public Awareness and Community Readiness, Health and Medical, and Long-Term Supports and Services. Committee members are tasked with completing the over 100 recommendations included in the plan. In the first two years, the DAC has focused on high priority short-term recommendations that require little to no funding. A substantial amount of work has been accomplished! As of now, we are excited to have new support. The final Supplemental Operating Budget, approved by the Senate on March 7 and the House on March 8, includes $160,000 for four dedicated staff to coordinate and advance the work of the DAC.
See below for some highlights within each subcommittee:
Public Awareness and Community Readiness
• Produced a Dementia Safety Info Kit, which compiled the best available information on topics such as home safety, driving, wandering, fall prevention, and avoiding financial exploitation.
• Completed a fact sheet on dementia-friendly communities for Washington State, which was distributed within over 15 statewide networks and presented in venues such as the Washington Library Association and UW Elder Friendly Futures conferences.
• Worked with the National Asian Pacific Center on Aging to produce action guides for service providers and policy makers about connecting with the Asian Pacific Islander population around dementia.
Health and Medical
• Strategically aligned with the governor-appointed Bree Collaborative that focuses on improving healthcare services throughout the state. Convened an expert panel which provided statewide standards for dementia care via the Bree Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias Report and Recommendations. • Completed a position paper, Brief Cognitive Screening Tools for Primary Care Practice, to provide guidance on best practices in cognitive screening. • Produced a Washington state specific Clinical Provider Practice Tool, based on a successful tool used in Minnesota.
Long-Term Supports and Services
• Published a Dementia Road Map for family caregivers providing information about what to expect, suggested action steps and helpful resources.
• Worked with the Public Awareness and Community Readiness committee to produce a webinar and written guidance on how to start an Alzheimer’s Café – a simple yet effective social engagement program for people with dementia and their families.
Reflecting on the progress to-date, DAC Program Manager Lynne Korte states, “It’s amazing how much this group has accomplished. They are truly committed to making life better for people living with dementia. It’s inspiring to see the dedication, energy and awareness building across the state.” Moving forward, one DAC priority is outreach around these newly developed educational materials and resources. UW MBWC Clinical Neuropsychologist Kristoffer Rhoads, PhD, who chairs the Health and Medical subcommittee, states that his team’s primary goal for 2018 is “to work closely with key stakeholders around the state, including the legislature, to develop a public-private partnership emphasizing training, dissemination, and implementation of the dementia care guidelines and tools that we now have available.”
In service of this broad marketing effort, the Public Awareness and Community Readiness committee is making a number of enhancements to the state’s Community Living Connections website, to be unveiled later this year. With these updates, the website aims to be a portal of resources and information for people living with dementia and their families.
Meanwhile, other significant projects continue to unfold. I’m eager to advance work alongside the Long-Term Supports
and Services subcommittee to produce a series of guides and statewide webinars about program models that enable people with dementia and their loved ones to stay active and connected in their communities. For our first webinar on starting an Alzheimer’s Café, we received registrations from over 30 counties. I’m confident the next webinar on “dementia-friendly” walking groups will have a similar impact. See: Alzheimer’s Cafe Model: A Guide to Getting Started in Your Community.
With much having been accomplished, and other successes on the horizon, it’s a promising time for the DAC. Forging ahead to fully implement the Washington State Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias, we can ensure that the growing number of people with dementia in our state, and their loved ones, receive the care and support they deserve. Want more information on the resources mentioned in this article? Visit the DSHS Dementia Action Collaborative website for a more detailed 2017 Progress Report and other materials.