Ecumen has been awarded a $265,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to fund expansion of its nationally recognized Ecumen Awakenings™ dementia care program into its assisted living communities. The care program emphasizes managing Alzheimer’s and related dementias without highly sedating drugs and improving residents’ quality of life.
In 2010 Ecumen received a DHS grant to introduce Awakenings at its 15 skilled nursing sites after the success of a pilot program created by Ecumen staff. Over the three-year period of this grant, Awakenings achieved a 97% reduction in the use of psychotropic medications, decreasing dosage or discontinuing use of more than 1,000 of these potentially harmful drugs. The new grant is for a one-year pilot program in 14 of Ecumen’s 33 assisted living communities.
“Awakenings has clearly changed the culture of dementia care in our skilled nursing facilities, and the expertise we have gained gives us high confidence we can translate the program to the assisted living setting as well,” said Shelley Kendrick, Ecumen vice president of operations. “Our goal is to have Awakenings in all our assisted living communities and then bring the program to home care settings.”
Awakenings is an integrated care program where residents, their families, doctors and care staff all work together to replace traditional drug therapies with individualized techniques that reduce anxiety and difficult behaviors.
The University of Minnesota Center on Aging will be partnering with Ecumen on the project, helping tailor the Awakenings program to assisted living communities and monitoring progress with rigorous research. Awakenings training will officially start in August, 2014, at all 14 Ecumen assisted living pilot sites.
Ecumen, one of the nation’s largest nonprofit providers of senior housing and aging services headquartered in Shoreview, Minn., recently was honored with the Excellence in Dementia Care Award by LeadingAge, a national association of nonprofit aging services providers, which recognizes extraordinary leadership in the quest to improve lives of those touched by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
[This grant is supported, in part, by a Home and Community Based Services Performance-based Incentive Payment Program grant from Department of Human Services (DHS). Points of view or opinions do not necessarily represent official DHS policy.]