North Dakota Assistance Program For Dementia Caregivers Lowered Utilization Produced Savings And Increased Empowerment
Author: Marilyn G. Klug, Gwen Wagstrom Halaas, Mandi-Leigh Peterson
North Dakota’s state-funded Dementia Care Services Program provides individualized assistance to caregivers of persons with dementia. Caregivers can contact program representatives at any time and may continue to contact them throughout the years they are caring for the person with dementia. During the program’s first forty-two months of operation (January 2010 to June 2013), care consultants assisted 1,750 caregivers, primarily family members, of 951 persons with dementia. In survey responses and other self-reported data, the unpaid caregivers credited the assistance program with helping them feel more empowered, consider their charges less likely to be placed in long-term care, and use less potentially avoidable medical services such as hospitalizations and 911 calls. The program’s estimated potential savings were $39.2 million from delayed long-term care placement and $0.8 million from reduced use of medical services, and its two-year costs were $1.2 million. The program’s success with its rural service population, for which travel tends to be difficult and resources limited, provides a model for others to adapt. It also encourages further research on impacts of individualized support programs on persons with dementia and their caregivers.