Q&A: Julia DeLoia, Chief Academic Officer at Dignity Health Global Education, on the Benefits of DHGE’s Programs for Senior Care Professionals

Sept. 5, 2023
Key programs designed to provide “person-centered care” to those with memory loss

Backed by CommonSpirit Health, Providence Health, and Premier, Inc., Dignity Health Global Education (DHGE) is a leader in targeted efforts to better equip senior care professionals with programs designed to improve the health of people living with dementia. DHGE’s chief academic officer, Julia DeLoia, recently spoke via email with Healthcare Innovation about the origins of the Essentials of Person-Centered Memory Care program and the impact it is having on the healthcare industry.

What was the origin of this program, and what were the core needs that stimulated its creation?

The Covid-19 pandemic took a severe toll on the senior care sector, leaving providers struggling to hire, train and retain workers. Frontline care staff turnover in senior care facilities far exceeded turnover in other healthcare roles. Supervisors were being tasked with training a very transient workforce, in addition to their other duties. As a result, workers were receiving inadequate and inconsistent training, which impacted quality of care. 

As a solution to the training challenges, DHGE created the Essentials of Person-Centered Memory Care program; an 18-hour online training program to orient learners in the care of persons living with dementia. Through this program, organizations can provide more consistent and deeper training, lighten the burden of training on managers and supervisors, and empower the learners to be more confident in their roles, ultimately leading to less turnover. 

How is it being implemented at CommonSpirit and Providence?

CHI Living Communities, part of CSH, helped to design and create the content for training purposes for all new frontline staff (primarily memory care specialists). The training is implemented within their team. Providence facilities in California that meet the training requirements for CalGrows are also using the training. 

What are the core elements that make this program different in terms of how memory care is implemented for patients?

DHGE’s Essentials of Person-Centered Memory Care program is recognized by the Alzheimer’s Association for successfully incorporating the evidence-based Dementia Care Practice recommendations in the following topic areas:

·      Alzheimer’s and dementia, person-centered care

·       Assessment and care planning

·       Activities of daily living

·       Behaviors and communication. 

In addition, providers who train their staff with the program will be eligible to sit for the Alzheimer’s Association essentiALZ certification exam upon completion. 

What are the key educational elements to learn about and master?

The Essentials of Person-Centered Memory Care program’s key educational elements and outcomes include: The ability to better recognize the importance of the caregiver role in the life story of the person living with dementia.

·       Demonstrated person-centered care in daily work

·       The ability to identify brain changes, stages and diseases of dementia

·       How to manage personal approaches to distress regarding an individual with dementia

·       How to determine strategies for challenging behaviors during activities of daily living

·       The ability to identify strategies for both patient and caregiver safety

·       Identifying and utilizing community specific resources 

Have results of the program been documented? Are there any metrics of success?

At this time, 2,800+ caregivers are being trained in California via the California Department of Aging. Of the over 215 caregivers who have already completed the course and filled out the post-course survey:

·       99% of participants would recommend the course to other healthcare professionals.

·       100% of participants feel they understand the principles of person-centered care and are able to apply these principles to their daily work.

·       100% of participants feel confident using communication strategies to approach and connect with people living with dementia. 

Looking forward, how will this program evolve over the next couple of years?

As DHGE is a recent recipient of the CalGrows Innovation Fund, offered as part of the California Department of Aging’s (CDA) Direct Care Workforce Initiative – which aims to advance career pathways for the Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) workforce – DHGE is on track to help senior and memory care workers support over 690,000 Californians living with dementia.        

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