Tuesday, March 28, 2023
As described in The San Diego Union-Tribune, San Diego's Alzheimer' Response pilot program, launched in 2018 for the "East County," is a success, helping the public in better addressing people coping with Alzheiemer's Disease or other dementias. The Alzheimer's Response Team (or ART) now covers the full San Diego region, with help from $1.5 milliion in funding and a staff of 10.5 full time employees. Originally the program collaborated with an outside nonprofit organization, but "the county now provides its dementia training in-house."
Concerned family members have the option of asking for ART services, often as a way to avoid having problematic episodes escalate. The article, published online on 3/27/2023 explains:
ART focuses on two aspects of dementia care: crisis response and crisis prevention. To better respond to emergency calls related to dementia, law enforcement agents, first responders, social workers and mental health clinicians receive training on how neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s impact someone’s behavior.
That training helps first responders better recognize the symptoms of dementia during emergency calls. They can then call in the ART specialists to work with the person in distress and provide in-home services for clients living with dementia and their family caregivers.
Eugenia Welch — president and CEO for Alzheimer’s San Diego, which helped develop the initial programming — said the first responder training and specialized ART staff are key to the program’s success. Interacting with someone diagnosed with dementia, she added, is different than working with people who don’t have neurodegenerative disorders and “takes a unique skill.”
“I think by having the specialized team going out, they’re able to be more in tune to the services that are available for people living at home with dementia and able to more quickly connect people with those services to get them the support they need,” Welch said.