NEWS | May 16, 2018

UC Davis nursing researchers to develop innovative program for family caregivers of dementia patients transitioning from hospital to home

(SACRAMENTO, Calif.)

Researchers from the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis received a $224,000 grant from the Archstone Foundation for a one-year project, Development of an Innovative and Evidence-based Program to Advance Support for Family Caregivers of Persons with Dementia in the Transition from Hospital to Community.

Associate Professor Elena O. Siegel leads a School of Nursing team to support family caregivers of persons with dementia. Associate Professor Elena O. Siegel leads a School of Nursing team to support family caregivers of persons with dementia.

The long-term goal of this project is to improve the health and well-being of family caregivers of persons with dementia at the critical time of caregiving during transition from hospital. Researchers recognize this important opportunity to advance family caregiving for older adults by embedding evidence-based interventions into routine health care settings.

“Our goal is to develop a sustainable program to help family caregivers, but we recognize that successfully translating research into practice lags across health care settings,” said Elena O. Siegel, associate professor at the School of Nursing and principal investigator. “A strength of our approach is that it considers multiple stakeholder perspectives, as well as the organization and individual factors that determine long-term success.” 

Reports show that a diagnosis of dementia is associated with a 3.68 times higher risk for hospitalization. Caregivers for those individuals deal with both the underlying dementia and the other conditions that precipitated the hospitalization. Oftentimes, they enter the situation already fatigued and have difficulty managing the demands of care.

“We know family caregivers play a vital role in care for persons with dementia and face complex challenges when a hospital stay occurs,” said Heather M. Young, founding dean. “However, the evidence to support targeted programs for these family caregivers is only in its infancy.”

Young, and Ladson Hinton, interim chair and professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the UC Davis School of Medicine, serve as co-principal investigators on the project that will be carried out at UC Davis Medical Center. Elizabeth Rice, associate dean for clinical education and practice, is a co-investigator. A critical component of this formative project is medical center key stakeholder engagement – from the beginning – to co-design and finalize the program protocol and implementation plan through consensus-building activities.

Young added that the passage of the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act in California provides an important opportunity to leverage state policies that mandate the identification and support of family caregivers at discharge.

“The program will reflect both evidence-based care and an innovative approach,” Hinton said. “Rather than using a one-size-fits-all perspective, we will incorporate a stepped or layered approach, offering the more resource-intensive care to caregivers who need it most, with potential for cost-effective benefits that can contribute to the long-term sustainability of the program.” 

The project will consider existing workflows, payment mechanisms and engagement of key personnel at the medical center. Outcomes from this project will set the stage to implement and formally evaluate the medical center’s family caregiver support program and to disseminate the results to the broader health care community.

This project is among the research led by faculty of the Family Caregiving Institute of the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis. Funded through a grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the goal of the institute is to advance research, education and policy to support caregivers in the demands that impact their mental, physical and financial health and threaten their quality of life.

“Archstone Foundation has been supporting innovated responses to the needs of family caregivers for more than two decades. The new Family Caregiving Institute promises to bring evidence-based science, innovation and compassion to addressing the needs of family caregivers and the older adults they are caring for,” said Joseph F. Prevratil, president and CEO of the foundation.

Archstone Foundation is a private grant-making organization in Long Beach, California.  Its mission is to contribute towards the preparation of society in meeting the needs of an aging population.  Since 2012, Archstone Foundation has funded in three priority areas: 

  1. Enabling older people to remain in their homes and communities;
  2. Improving the quality of life for older adults suffering from depression; and
  3. Developing innovative responses to the family caregiving needs of elders.

“We are grateful to the Archstone Foundation for recognizing our innovative approach to caregiver support and investing in this work,” Hinton added. “UC Davis’ integrated academic health system, coupled with the research focus of the Family Caregiving Institute, enables us to leverage substantial expertise to successfully undertake this much-needed work.”

For more on the Family Caregiving Institute at the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis or the School of Nursing’s research or degree programs, visit nursing.ucdavis.edu.