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REPORT: Direct-Care Workers Should Be Trained in Dementia Care

July 10, 2014

The creation of new dementia-specific training curricula for direct-care workers is one of 25 “high-impact policy solutions” offered by the nonprofit RAND Corporation to help address the increasing need for better-quality dementia care in the U.S.

In a new report, RAND researchers note that more than 88 million Americans will be aged 70 or older by 2050 (up from 40 million in 2010), and a significant percentage of them will be living with dementia, placing financial and mental stress on millions of family caregivers.

Health care workers need to be adequately trained to address this issue — especially direct-care workers, who provide 70 to 80 percent of hands-on care in long-term care settings, the report says, citing PHI data.

To that end, the report recommends that long-term care stakeholders “create new and disseminate existing dementia best practices and training programs for professional and paraprofessional care workers.”

In late 2013, PHI piloted a two-day, dementia-specific training for home care workers as part of the Homecare Aide Workforce Initiative, a $3 million training and workforce development project that will run through the end of the year.

Other Recommendations

“Specialized geriatric training” should also be provided to direct care professionals while in school, the researchers recommend. Additionally, policymakers should work to “create new and improve existing incentives for the direct care workforce.”

The full list of 25 policy solutions is compiled in the new RAND report, “Improving Dementia Long-Term Care.” In it, RAND researchers organize the policy solutions into five objectives:

  1. Increase public awareness of dementia, to reduce stigma and promote earlier detection.
  2. Improve access to and use of LTSS for people with dementia.
  3. Promote high-quality care focused on meeting the needs of individuals and family caregivers.
  4. Provide better support for family members who provide care to people with dementia.
  5. Reduce the financial burden placed on individuals and families who must pay for LTSS for people with dementia.

Each of the 25 policy solutions can and should be “implemented immediately,” the report says.

— by Matthew Ozga

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