Partners in Caregiving: The Dementia Services Program

Dates of Program: October 1991 through March 2008

Field of Work: Building on the lessons from a prior program called the Dementia Care and Respite Services Program (DCRSP), which demonstrated that adult day centers for dementia sufferers could provide needed services to individuals across a wide range of disease severity, and could become financially viable, especially by focusing on the private pay market.

Problem Synopsis: Caregivers who cope with the problems affecting a loved one suffering from dementia confront a process that can span 20 years or more. Not until Alzheimer's produces severe symptoms do some caregivers turn to a nursing home or another institution for relief. Often, community-based services are lacking, and even when they are available, caregivers may have difficulty piecing together the information about desired services and then making the appropriate arrangements. Since most people who suffer from a chronic, debilitating illness prefer to remain in their own home or in the home of a family member or friend, adult day centers offer an attractive alternative to nursing homes.

Synopsis of the Work: The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and the Wake Forest University School of Medicine created Partners in Caregiving: The Dementia Services Program (PIC) to determine whether results realized in DCRSP could be achieved through technical assistance only, or whether funding is a requisite to the success of an individual adult day center.

Key Results

  • The lessons learned under DCRSP could be applied swiftly and effectively.

  • Adult day centers can effectively serve people with other chronic conditions.

  • Technical assistance could be just as effective as funding in helping adult day centers replicate models of care—and become financially viable at the same time.

In 1998 (under grant ID# 024202), the Wake Forest University School of Medicine began a 2.5-year intensive effort through PIC to disseminate lessons learned in this program to adult day centers across the United States.