Objective: The primary objective is to report on the efficacy of an individualized dementia care consultation intervention for family caregivers of patients with diagnosed dementia living in the community. The secondary objective is to present evidence on the intervention process to inform the feasibility and sustainability of the model featuring collaboration between primary care physicians and a voluntary sector organization.
Method: Randomization was based on primary care physician practice site. In the intervention group, dementia care consultants located at an Alzheimer's association chapter provided individualized counseling and support over a 12-month period, and sent copies of care plans developed with family caregivers to referring primary care physicians. In the control group, family caregivers received educational and community resource information but no care consultation. Nursing home admission of patients during the 12-month study period was the primary outcome; secondary outcomes included measures of caregiver self-efficacy for managing dementia, caregiver depressive symptoms, and caregiver burden.
Results: A total of 84 family caregivers participated. After adjusting for baseline characteristics, patients whose family caregivers were in the intervention group were less likely than their control group counterparts to be admitted to a nursing home (Adjusted odds ratio = 0.40; 95% C.I. = 0.14-1.18; p = 0.10). No other outcomes were significantly different between treatment groups; however, intervention group caregivers reporting greater satisfaction with the intervention showed improved self-efficacy for managing dementia compared to their less satisfied counterparts. Medical record reviews found that care plans were found in most patient records, but that only 27% of intervention group caregivers reported discussing these care plans with physicians. Three different individuals occupied the dementia care consultant position during the study period, and this turnover led to family caregiver dissatisfaction.
Conclusion: The dementia care consultation intervention showed favorable effects on nursing home admission and on caregiver outcomes among intervention group caregivers more satisfied with the intervention, but there are important barriers to sustaining this collaboration between primary care physicians and a voluntary sector organization such as an Alzheimer's association chapter.