UIndy Center for Aging & Community tapped for role in $1.3M grant

The University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community has been selected by the Indiana University School of Medicine as a partner in a 36-month venture to enhance, strengthen and expand supports for people with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias (ADRD) and their caregivers in 34 Indiana counties. This venture, called the Alzheimer’s Disease Programs Initiative (ADPI), is supported by a $1.3 million grant from the U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services

CAC’s role in ADPI is to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the project, which builds upon existing home and community-based social supports to maximize the ability of people with ADRD to remain independent in their communities.

“CAC has established expertise in project evaluation over the course of nearly 20 years,” said Dr. Ellen Miller, CAC executive director. “We are proud to be selected as a partner in the ADPI project and look forward to determining its impact on Indiana citizens living with dementia.” 

Other ADPI partners include Eskenazi Health; Central Indiana’s Area Agency on Aging (AAA) CICOA Aging and In-Home Solutions and four additional Indiana AAAs (Aging & In-Home Services of Northeast Indiana, LifeStream Services, REAL Services, and Thrive Alliance); Indiana Association of Area Agencies on Aging; Indiana Professional Management Group; Greater Indiana Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association; Dementia Friends Indiana; and the Divisions of Aging and Disability & Rehabilitative Services of Indiana Family and Social Services Administration.

To achieve their goal, ADPI partners will deploy a collaborative dementia care model and training interventions, which have been proven to reduce caregiver stress and improve quality of life. People with ADRD and their caregivers will receive coaching from community health workers serving as dementia care coordinator assistants, and in-home personal care workers will receive specialized training in dementia care.

ADPI will serve 1,000 individuals who are eligible for nursing home care, yet are living in the community aided by Medicaid in-home services and support. In particular, people with ADRD who live alone or are aging with intellectual and developmental disabilities, such as Down’s syndrome, will receive support. In addition, the ADPI will provide training in dementia care to 500 personal care workers.  

The U.S. Administration for Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services contributed one million dollars in federal funds to the total grant, or 75 percent of the project’s total costs. The remaining 25 percent of the total—$333,333 in nongovernmental matching funds—was financed by the five partner Area Agencies on Aging. 

UIndy CAC helping train National Guard for COVID-19 response in nursing homes

Indiana National Guard training

Indiana National Guard training

When members of the Indiana National Guard take their places at the state’s more than 500 nursing homes this week and in the months to come, they will do so with training provided, in part, by the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community (CAC). Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb announced in late October that Indiana National Guard troops would be deployed to nursing homes to provide support to staff who have been on the front lines since the pandemic began last spring.

“Nearly 11,000 residents in Indiana nursing homes have contracted COVID-19 since March; more than 2,400 of those residents have died,” said Dr. Ellen W. Miller, executive director of CAC. “While only six percent of Indiana’s COVID cases have occurred in nursing homes, those cases account for more than 57% of the state’s COVID-related deaths.”

This disproportion contributed to the decision to call up the Indiana National Guard, Miller said. The National Guard is not being tasked with resident care responsibilities, but will help with additional administrative tasks that have emerged because of COVID-19.

“That will allow the nursing home staff to focus on caring for the residents,” Miller said. 

For the past eight years, CAC has worked with the Regenstrief Institute to embed nurses with specialized training in nursing homes to reduce avoidable hospitalizations. The effort, known as the OPTIMISTIC Project, was so successful that the leaders of the federally funded demonstration project teamed up with business development experts to found a medical startup company called Probari in order to bring similarly structured training to nursing homes around the country. 

Russell Evans from Probari, Inc. trains Indiana National Guard troops for their deployment to Indiana nursing homes.

Russell Evans from Probari, Inc. trains Indiana National Guard troops for their deployment to Indiana nursing homes.

So, when Holcomb called up the National Guard, Probari was tapped to provide training in long term care before the deployment. Miller, who was part of the leadership of OPTIMISTIC, worked with Probari’s Dr. Kathleen Unroe and Russell Evans, as well experts from the nursing home industry, Lori Davenport and Rebecca Bartle, to construct a half-day curriculum for the troops.

“In addition to training soldiers specifically how to perform their new roles, we designed the training to give them an appreciation of how tough things have been for nursing home residents and staff during pandemic-related lockdowns, an understanding of what to expect on a typical day in a nursing home, and how to protect residents and themselves from infection,” Miller said. 

According to Miller, the Guard will be helping with COVID screening at building entrances, data entry related to frequent testing, facilitating family visitations, and cleaning high touch surfaces in nursing home common areas. More than 1,400 National Guard personnel will be trained and deployed. The first of seven trainings took place on Friday, October 30 at Camp Atterbury in southern Indiana. The Guard is scheduled to be in place through December 31, 2020.

In addition to the OPTIMISTIC project, CAC has coordinated infection prevention training for nursing homes in Indiana for several years at the request of the Indiana Department of Health. CAC will also be a part of a new Indiana Nursing Home COVID-19 Action Network as part of Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes). Led by the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University, this ECHO program is geared specifically for nursing home leadership to build capacity related to COVID-19 and protect residents and staff.