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February 1, 2024

AMDA members are often on the frontlines of dementia care, so it’s only appropriate that they be involved in the National Dementia Workforce Study, which involves surveying those individuals who work in homes, hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes to gain data to improve care and inform policy. It’s even the subject of a More of a Good Thing: A Framework to Grow and Strengthen the PALTC Careforce this Thursday, February 8, at 4:00 PM ET.

“The overall scope of the project is pretty daunting,” says Joanne Spetz, PhD, director of the Phillip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies and the UCSF Health Workforce Research Center on Long-Term Care. She and her team are conducting four separate surveys. One will focus on physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners from primary care, psychiatry, and neurology—in other words, the specialties likely to provide dementia care—and will include those who work in nursing facilities. The second survey involves nursing home leadership and staff. The third survey targets residential care communities in a broad range of job categories, and the fourth survey will focus on home care and those providing support with activities of daily living (ADLs) in the home. She notes, “We are surveying clinicians separately because they generally aren’t facility employees.”

Dr. Spetz says, “We will look at a number of outcomes related to the care patients with dementia receive. All data will be confidential, so clinicians should feel confident that their information will provide opportunities for insights and not be used as a ‘report card.’” She notes that the data will help lay the groundwork to identify and guide best practices for the future.

“We are interested in issues around quality of life, as well as palliative care and hospice access,” Dr. Spetz explains. For instance, they want to know about clinicians’ ability to find referrals and specialists to meet their needs.

Not surprisingly, Dr. Spetz and her team will be looking at staffing. “We hope that questions we ask about the training people receive, their stress and burnout experiences, where they feel most and least supported, and their intentions to leave or stay in the field will provide useful information and target some best practices,” she says. The data from the survey, she notes, “will enable people to generate new knowledge to improve recruitment, training, retention, and support for the workforce to care for this growing population and better understand how different workforce attributes affect the quality of care that patients with dementia receive.”

AMDA helped the researchers with suggestions for items to include on the questionnaires. Dr. Spetz looks forward to the involvement of Society members, saying, “If you get the survey, please fill it out. If you are a medical director, encourage your facility to participate.” She also urges members to think about what additional survey questions might be useful for the future. “You can help shape the future of dementia care by sharing your knowledge and experience,” she says.

Dr. Spetz also encourages AMDA members to consider what research they might like to do on dementia care. She says, “If you are doing research or mentoring those who are, think about this data set and how you can use it in your own studies when the first full dataset is released in early 2025.”

This study project is funded by a grant from the NIH’s National Institute on Aging. Get more information about the study and how you can get involved. And make sure to register for Thursday’s More of a Good Thing session on the study.