We’ve heard of Telehealth, a new way to treat patients through remote electronic software, enabling healthcare professionals to reach patients who are homebound or who live in rural communities.
This exact same concept is being piloted by the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association to bring much-needed education to caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that over 75% of those caregivers still work either part-time or full time. As a result, they have very little time left between working and caring for their loved one, to seek out or go to areas where presentations are being given to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease.
By introducing virtual interactive training through Zoom Technologies as a new way to deliver education remotely so that caregivers can receive the support they need when dealing with the stressors associated with caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease, the association is making access a game-changer.
Half of caregivers (51%) of people with Alzheimer’s or another dementia indicate having no experience performing medical/nursing-related tasks and they often lack the information or resources necessary to manage complex medication regimens. In addition, 59% of people caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease report experiencing high to very high levels of emotional stress and 38% report experiencing physical stress.
With approximately 150,000 caregivers living in Central Texas, the need for support and education is at an all-time high. Over the past year, this new form of remote delivery of information has helped make a difference in the lives of countless caregivers.
Not only is this offered to companies for their employees to view as a remote lunch and learn but it is also available for individuals to link to from their individual computer. The uniqueness also comes from the fact that it is an interactive presentation with the ability of the participant to ask questions to the presenter live. Lectures are only an hour long and cover a variety of topics including: Know the 10 signs, Effective communication strategies and much more.
The fact that those sessions are also presented in Spanish provides a well-rounded approach to education for all communities including those who are twice at risk for developing the disease such as Hispanics and African Americans. Virtual Interactive presentations have allowed the association to partner with local grassroots organizations that can be host sites for viewing purposes as well.
Most importantly these virtual trainings are available at no cost to the viewer. Care and support is one of the pillars of the association’s strategic plan and coming up with new ways to reach more people is the one true way to make a difference in the lives of those who need it the most.
In the very near future, the Austin chapter will be looking to pilot a similar concept specifically to provide remote education to primary care physicians. In fact, Project Echo is currently being offered out of the home office of the association in Chicago and local physicians will be able to access discussions on case studies, education on Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia. Most individuals receive their healthcare through primary care physicians making it very important for them to be reasonably well versed in the disease process.
Project ECHO will Contribute to a dramatic increase in the accurate and timely diagnosis of people with Alzheimer’s and other dementias. It will also significantly increase the number of people with dementia and their caregivers who receive affordable, high-quality care and support. This model will help spread clinical knowledge faster and embed it faster in practice than through traditional dissemination of knowledge.
There are a handful of Project ECHO hubs across the country.