Newport News, Va. – Riverside Health System announced today it has received a federal grant of nearly $1 million to enhance dementia care across the region. Under the terms of the “Enhancing Family-Centered Approaches to Dementia Care Through Wellness and Training” grant, Riverside will expand on its current programs and partner with nationally recognized organizations to launch new programs in the region that will provide an ability to assess more older adults for dementia, give patients expanded access to physical wellness programs to help enhance their quality of life, and train the family and professional caregivers who provide the majority of support for patients as their disease progresses.
The $999,032 grant was awarded to Riverside through the Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative (ADPI). Riverside was one of 19 awardees nationwide and the only organization in Virginia that received a collective total of $20,400,542 in grant funding.
“A couple of years ago, Riverside leadership challenged its teams to answer the question, ‘what must we do, as a unified, integrated health system, to fully serve older adults and their caregivers who live with memory disorders? And how can we do that not just in one location, but across a region and beyond?’” said Rick Jackson, Executive Director at Riverside Center for Excellence in Aging and Lifelong Health (CEALH). “With this grant, Riverside is taking a major leap forward with the success of many incremental innovations – further strengthening partnerships both within the health system and beyond, and bolstering our family-centered memory care capabilities to benefit a much larger population.”
The grant, awarded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living, will be managed by Riverside CEALH and include close coordination between Riverside Neurology and Riverside Wellness and Fitness Centers to address the major goals identified in the grant proposal – further extending the quality and availability of dementia care Riverside provides families across southeastern Virginia and beyond.
Under the terms of the grant, Riverside will expand its Geriatric Assessment and Memory Care Clinics to help patients and their families not only receive a dementia diagnosis earlier in the disease process, but also help manage the disease to enhance the quality of life for persons living with dementia.
“Dementia effects, more than any other disease, extend beyond the individual patient – it takes away their independence and subsequently requires others to step in. It has dramatic impact on the patient, the family and the social fabric around the patient,” said Adel A. Aziz, M.D., a highly trained behavioral neurologist with Riverside Neurology Specialists.
Thanks to the grant, more patients will also be able to receive enhanced medication reviews to minimize risks and complications arising from using multiple drugs to treat dementia and other complex health conditions, and a larger number of patients will be able to receive comprehensive geriatric assessments.
Riverside will also become the first BRI Care Consultation provider in the state of Virginia, providing an evidence-based care-coaching program from the renowned Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging to help professionals deliver cost-effective assistance and support to both dementia patients and their family caregivers. This care consultation program will be delivered in partnership with the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving, a long-term partner of Riverside CEALH.
“The old way of giving someone a diagnosis and sending them home simply does not work for dementia,” Dr. Aziz said. “Dementia requires a truly comprehensive look at the clinical, emotional, social and legal situation for both the patient and the caregiver.”
Expanding wellness activities for patients with dementia and their caregivers marks a second key component of the services that will come out of the grant, which will help grow Riverside Wellness and Fitness Center programs specifically designed for those at risk, those with dementia, and caregivers.
Current Riverside Wellness and Fitness programs designed to support patients with dementia and their caregivers build strength and confidence in their ability to move through their daily lives will expand beyond Newport News to also include Hampton and Williamsburg.
“We’re excited to broaden the reach of these valuable fitness programs not just for dementia patients, but also caregivers, and better preparing them for the daily act of caring for those they love,” said Beth Gross, MS, MSEd, Riverside’s Director of Clinical Wellness Development.
Riverside’s award-winning Williamsburg Memory Café will also expand into Newport News under the terms of the grant, providing a safe and informal environment where people with memory loss and their care partners can remain socially engaged with others traveling the same journey. Riverside CEALH will also coordinate and implement two new Chronic Disease Self-Management Program workshops on the Peninsula annually, a proven way to further minimize potentially preventable hospital readmissions.
For training, the grant will also provide additional access and opportunities for learning, development, and personal growth for both family and professional caregivers in the form of microlearning lessons and in-person training.
Microlearning is a highly effective way of teaching that delivers content to learners in brief, easy-to-consume bursts. With the grant, Riverside plans to translate its well-known “Caring for You, Caring for Me” seminar series into ten microlearning lessons delivered online and tailored for use by family caregivers. The program is endorsed by the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving and has earned best practices awards from professional organizations.
“Family caregivers are the backbone of our health system,” said Christine Jensen, Ph.D., Director of Health Services Research for Riverside CEALH and a Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving Master Trainer. “There are some truly remarkable family caregivers out there, performing complex tasks – some quite medical in nature – with little training. We have to lift our family caregivers up, shore them up with evidence-based programs and convenient educational opportunities that empower them to keep doing what they’re doing, because today’s health care infrastructure cannot keep up with the growing demand on its own.” Jensen will serve as the Project Director for this grant.
Another innovative curriculum developed by Riverside CEALH, originally designed for nursing home staff and based on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) “Hand in Hand” Toolkit, will also be converted into digital microlearning lessons for family caregivers. Underscoring its leadership in dementia care training, CEALH will expand on this successful project by making all 52 lessons available online to all professional caregivers across Virginia.
Additional training objectives Riverside will pursue as part of the grant include developing and piloting microlearning lessons for group home and adult day staff who support individuals living with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD).
Finally, Riverside will expand availability of Positive Approach™ to Care (PAC) training to reach and support more family caregivers across the region. Developed by renowned occupational therapist Teepa Snow, PAC helps caregivers develop observational skills required to shift from simply "dealing with the behaviors" to creating a positive and caring environment.