Ochsner Health Receives $700K Dementia Care Grant from the National Institute on Aging and National Institutes of Health
NEW ORLEANS, La. – The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) awarded Ochsner Health a $700,000 grant to study the effectiveness of its collaborative dementia care through the Ochsner Neuroscience Institute’s Brain Health and Cognitive Disorders Program. Ochsner is part of a network of institutions receiving a total of $7 million from NIA/NIH to study the Care Ecosystem dementia care model program originally developed at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF).
Designed to help patients with dementia and their caregivers, Care Ecosystem is a 12-month program that provides individualized support to participating patients and their caregivers—a spouse, an adult child, a relative or a friend.
“When patients are diagnosed with dementia, it is a difficult time for them and their family members as there is no cure for the disease. Patients and caregivers may have many questions and a feeling of nowhere to turn. The Care Ecosystem provides support to them in hopes of improving dementia care, increasing quality of life for both the patient and caregiver while reducing the disease burden experienced by families,” said Robert Sawyer, PhD, site principal investigator and co-director, Brain Health and Cognitive Disorders Program, Ochsner Health.
Through the multi-site trial, Care Ecosystem participants receive a tailored care plan based on an assessment of the patient’s and caregiver’s needs. The care plan consists of diagnosis education, strategies to manage cognitive and behavioral symptoms, community resources, insurance benefits or application assistance, and advanced care planning (power of attorney, living will, financial planning). By supporting caregivers, the program aims to reduce caregiver burnout and minimize the avoidable hospital and emergency department (ED) visits that are common in dementia patients when their caregivers have nowhere else to turn.
Care team navigators follow patients and their caregivers during this 12-month period offering non-clinical support, reassessing needs, and updating care plans while consulting with support personnel when needed. Caregivers receive regular phone calls from a care team navigator and patients continue to see neurologists, neuropsychologists, nurses, and pharmacists for treatment.
The NIA/NIH grant will allow this necessary work to continue, by enrolling an additional 225 pairs of patients and caregivers to the 200 current pairs enrolled. The grant will also fund more care navigators and dementia care medical professionals.
“The grant from NIA and NIH will allow us to expand the care team navigator program continuing our work in hopes of garnering a better understanding of patient and caregiver needs across diverse cultural and economic backgrounds. We are so grateful because most importantly, it will allow us to support more patients and their families during a difficult time, increasing our reach from 200 patients to an additional 225,” said Dr. Sawyer.
Ochsner is one of only eight sites nationwide to offer the Care Ecosystem program designed by Katherine Possin, PhD, a neuropsychologist at UCSF. To qualify for the trial, patients must be diagnosed with dementia, have an identified caregiver, and have visited the ED or stayed inpatient in the hospital within the last 12 months. Patients cannot live in a long-term care facility.
Ochsner’s Care Ecosystem program, and other participating trial sites like it around the country, have been shown to be beneficial for the overall health and wellness of its dementia patients and their caregivers. Trial data published in JAMA Internal Medicine in 2019 found the program improved quality of life, reduced ED visits and decreased caregiver depression.
For more information about Ochsner’s Brain Health and Cognitive Disoriders Program and the Care Ecosystem clinical trial, being led at Ochsner by Dr. Sawyer as principal investigator and co-investigator, Emily Brickell, PsyD, please visit www.ochsner.org/cognitive-and-memory-disorders. The program lead is Carolina Pereira Osorio and she can answer questions about enrollment via email at email@example.com or by phone at 504-703-9077.
About Ochsner Health
Ochsner Health is an integrated healthcare system with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Celebrating 80 years in 2022, it leads nationally in cancer care, cardiology, neurosciences, liver and heart transplants and pediatrics, among other areas. Ochsner is consistently named both the top hospital and top children’s hospital in Louisiana by U.S. News & World Report. The not-for-profit organization is inspiring healthier lives and stronger communities. Its focus is on preventing diseases and providing patient-centered care that is accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner Health pioneers new treatments, deploys emerging technologies and performs groundbreaking research, including over 700 clinical studies. It has more than 34,000 employees and over 4,500 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties. It operates 40 hospitals and more than 300 health and urgent care centers across Louisiana, Mississippi and the Gulf South; and its cutting-edge Connected Health digital medicine program is caring for patients beyond its walls. In 2021, Ochsner Health treated more than 1 million people from every state and 75 countries. As Louisiana’s top healthcare educator, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. To learn more, visit https://www.ochsner.org/.