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Improving dementia care in Wisconsin through education

Enabling clinicians and healthcare trainees to improve the care of Wisconsin residents living with dementia

Our story

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia and affects more than 110,000 Wisconsin residents, a number expected to increase to 130,000 by 2025. Around 90 percent of persons with dementia experience behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) over the course of their illness. BPSD can include depression, anxiety, apathy, paranoia, physical aggression, wandering and sleep problems. These symptoms decrease quality of life of persons with dementia and their caregivers. BPSD make it harder for people to live in the community, and can be dangerous to persons with dementia and those around them.

Our team at the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Institute works to improve the care of people with BPSD by teaching healthcare providers better assessment and management of BPSD and helping train the next generation of healthcare professionals to better detect and treat dementia. We received a grant from the Wisconsin Partnership Program in 2019 to fund our project, “Enabling Clinicians and Healthcare Trainees to Improve the Care of Wisconsin Residents Living with Dementia.” The project includes the following three categories of education.

Teaching Physicians and Advanced Practice Providers

Primary care physicians and advanced practice providers are at the forefront of caring for patients with dementia. We are using the academic detailing model to teach and support healthcare professionals who face the challenges of BPSD. Academic detailing engages healthcare professionals to persuade them to make changes to their clinical practice. We are partnering with healthcare professionals at Milwaukee Health Services, Inc., and Richland Medical Center, using the academic detailing model. Using material drawn from our Principal Investigator’s textbook, Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia, we have put together a curriculum on how to assess and manage BPSD.  Learn more

Teaching Nurses and Other Healthcare Staff

Nurses and other healthcare staff work especially closely with patients with dementia and their caregivers. They are often directly responding to BPSD behaviors and advising caregivers about how best to respond. Our team has extensive experience with the DICE Approach™. This evidence-based approach teaches caregivers how to describe or interpret the behaviors caused by dementia, create a response that can work, and then evaluate the outcome. We are training nurses and other healthcare staff at Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. and Richland Medical Center on how to respond to BPSD using the DICE Approach™.   Learn more

Teaching Medical Students

We developed a curriculum for medical students at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health and UW Health residents on caring for people with dementia. Learn more

Expanding Education

Starting in September 2022, we began surveying the needs of primary care clinicians across the State of Wisconsin with respect to their care of patients with BPSD. We are also working with our community partners to refine the academic details in anticipation of expanding its use across the state. Learn more

Questions about our project? E-mail us

Thank you to our partners

Our project was funded by the Wisconsin Partnership Program grant #4360. Our deepest appreciation to our community partners Milwaukee Health Services, Inc. and Richland Medical Center.