Woman and her daughter at a doctor's appointment

Two New DPEN Initiatives Aim to Strengthen Dementia Care

By: UW Dementia Palliative Education Network (DPEN) Team

Dementias are prevalent, debilitating conditions with far-reaching health and social effects. An aging U.S. population means that there will likely be a 50% increase in demand for dementia care by 2025. But large gaps exist in the US healthcare system for people living with dementia.

With almost four million registered nurses — the largest part of the U.S. healthcare workforce — nurses are ideally positioned to lead dementia care transformation. The goal of DPEN is to transform nursing education to strengthen care for people living with dementia. Information about DPEN’s two newest initiatives is below.

Partnering with Your Healthcare Provider

Navigating the myriad of complexities and considerations in dementia care involves a therapeutic and authentic partnership between healthcare providers; the person living with dementia; and their care partners, which includes family, friends and their network of support. There are valuable skills, knowledge and tips to equip everyone for developing and sustaining this type of partnership. In cultivating this collaborative and productive relationship, an excellent place to start is by investing time to view Partnering With Your Healthcare Provider, an online, self-paced educational module developed in a joint effort by DPEN, the Alzheimer’s Association Washington State Chapter and the Dementia Action Collaborative.

The introductory slide to Partnering with Your Healthcare Provider

Using videos and sample forms, Partnering with Your Healthcare Provider demonstrates how to prepare for and communicate with a healthcare provider. The sample forms can help create organizational calm out of the otherwise chaotic tasks of being the care partner to a loved one with dementia. 

The entire module takes about 40 minutes to review. Users can start or stop as time permits. This tool is designed to help you:

  • Understand the meaning and purpose of a healthcare partnership
  • Communicate effectively with healthcare providers
  • Advocate for the care and needs of a person living with dementia
  • Use the care, medication and appointment logs to organize ongoing care
  • Utilize eight strategies that strengthen healtchare partnerships

Partnering with Your Healthcare Provider was created, reviewed and endorsed by healthcare providers, researchers, academicians, community members and dementia care partners. It is currently available here on the DPEN website.

New Externship Opportunities in Long-Term Care 

Long-term care education is in the spotlight as the UW School of Nursing pilots an exciting new externship program.

The School of Nursing is partnering with the Washington State Health Care Authority and the Department of Social and Health Services to pilot one of the first-in-the-nation long-term care (LTC) externships for senior Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students. The goal is to offer classroom and clinical education to nurses to inspire them to choose a career path in long-term care.

The externship offers nursing students an opportunity to be mentored over a period of six months by skilled LTC experts in local King and Snohomish County skilled nursing facilities. Students acquire 18 advanced skills and competencies and have ample opportunity to better understand the needs of this patient population and how serving that population can translate into a secure, fulfilling career option.

Those interested can read more about the externship here. Current University of Washington – Seattle campus undergraduate students interested in applying can do so by filling out this form. The program was recently featured in the local news.

Alzheimer's Association 24/7 Helpline 1.800.272.3900

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