Good Life is an evidence-informed program that has two goals:
- to prepare the health and human service workforce to provide competent and culturally-relevant person and family-centered care to support families living with a diagnosis of dementia; and
- to extend the capacity of neurology and memory care clinics to provide nonpharmacological supportive services to the families they serve through a partnership with Drexel.
The purpose of this service extension program and its evaluation is to improve the quality of life of family caregivers of people living with dementia. Families assume the long-term care needs of people living with dementia but typically without the knowledge, skills or referrals and linkages needed to address the many care challenges presented by dementia. Good Life involves a “dementia ambassador” who is trained in a family-centric approach and nonpharmacological strategies. The dementia ambassador meets with caregivers via telephone either every week or two weeks based on caregiver preferences and need over six months and then if the caregiver chooses, checks in with the caregiver once monthly for the next six months. In telephone sessions, the dementia ambassador offers support, provides nonpharmacological strategies to address caregiver-identified challenges, and provides tailored disease education, resources, and referrals based on identified needs. We are evaluating whether this type of support:
- reduces caregiver feelings of distress
- reduces the occurrence of dementia-related behavioral symptoms
- enhances caregiver confidence in managing day-to day and specifically, behavioral symptoms
- reduces healthcare utilization and possible associated costs
- improves perceived quality of life of the caregiver
This program has the potential to significantly impact dementia care locally, state-wide and nationally, by creating a replicable model for workforce development and direct service to family caregivers.
Good Life is partnering with Global Neurosciences Institute’s (GNI) Cognitive Disorders Center and builds upon the previously tested family support programs by Laura N. Gitlin, PhD. It is funded through the CASCADE Corporation, and previously Independence Blue Cross Foundation, with contributions from the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the College of Medicine.
As of January 2022, Good Life will be welcoming its first cohort of graduate student dementia ambassadors through the College’s new AgeWell Fellowship in Dementia Care. This first cohort for the pilot fellowship program will involve students from the Department of Counseling and Family Therapy who are in its Masters in Family Therapy Program. We are also creating other opportunities to involve students from other graduate programs in the College of Nursing and Health Professions.