Alzheimer’s Disease Initiative Program Grant Now Recruiting Rhode Island Participants

Published in RINewsToday on August 15, 2022

Last January, CareLink, a nonprofit network of post-acute and community-based providers, received a grant from the Administration for Community Living, a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. After the required planning period, and identifying community resources and referral organizations, and training staff, CareLink is now able to recruit program participants. Carelink, an East Providence-based healthcare organization, received funding for a three-year grant that offers innovative therapeutic services and programs. In addition, it connects participants with resources and provides caregiver education.  

CareLink’s services and programs will support older people with ADRD who live in the community alone or with a care partner, individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are at greater risk for developing dementia, and persons living in ethnically and culturally diverse communities with limited access to medical care due to economic, language, or other barriers. 

The $904,133 Alzheimer’s Disease Program Initiative (ADPI) grant enables the nonprofit to better support the 24,000 Rhode Islanders with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders (ADRD). These services are even more critical as this number is projected to double by 2040. In addition to individuals with ADRDs, the grant targets services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disorders and those living at home alone with a diagnosis of cognitive impairment. 

Grant funds will be used to deliver two nationally recognized, non-pharmacological, evidence-based treatment programs – Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) and Skills2Care®. These programs are provided to individuals living with ADRD, and when appropriate to their caregivers, at no cost. Specially trained CareLink occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists who have experience working with individuals with Dementia and their caregivers provide these interventions.   

Two Nationally Recognized Therapeutic Interventions to be Offered

CST addresses memory, thinking skills, and quality of life thru 14-biweekly sessions of structured 45-minute therapy sessions, featuring different topics.  Each session includes a warm-up activity, a song, and a “reality orientation board” that details the date, time, place, and weather.  Sessions include a variety of activities including the discussion of current news, listening and singing to music, playing word games, and participating in activities such as baking. This program can be provided using both individual and group sessions meant to foster social engagement and community. Both Speech-Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists provide this beneficial program.

Skills2Care® provides training for the individual and their caregiver on managing challenging behaviors. This program, delivered by a trained Occupational Therapist, during five ninety-minute home visits, includes techniques to reduce challenging behaviors, promote functioning, improve caregiver communication, home environment safety, and tips focused on caregiver self-care, including problem solving and teaching stress management techniques. 

“Our focus is on providing innovative treatment for individuals with dementia and their caregivers,” explains Dr. Chris Gadbois, chief executive officer of CareLink, Inc. “We’re integrating interventions and supports for patients and caregivers within the home environment, building upon the recommendations of the individual’s medical professional and resources within the community.” 

“The strong relationships CareLink has with a wide array of community partners will enable this program to reach Rhode Islanders from different backgrounds across the state. We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiastic support of the community for this effort to improve the lives of patients and their caregivers,” says Gadbois. 

“The Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Advisory Council congratulates CareLinkRI on securing this competitive funding for these important services,” said Council Chair Nancy Sutton, MS, RD.

“A diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or a related dementia is a devastating diagnosis for an individual, their family, and their loved ones. People need to talk to their healthcare provider about any concerns of memory loss, regardless of their age. We know that an early diagnosis allows patients and caregivers to connect with services and resources right away—before they experience a crisis.”

“Dementia care is complex and requires a full team to assist patients and their families navigate the healthcare system and community resources. This funding helps to support and expand a much-needed program where providers can refer patients and caregivers as soon as they receive a diagnosis.”

Christine Gadbois, representing CareLinkRI, is an active member of the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders Advisory Council, and has informed the Council on this newly funded initiative. Other Council members include the Rhode Island Department of Health, Office of Healthy Aging, Butler Hospital, and Rhode Island Hospital’s memory clinics, and the Alzheimer’s Association – Rhode Island Chapter, and they are all collaborating with CareLinkRI to ensure easy access.

“Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias take such a toll on our communities, and support services like those provided through CareLink and its partners are essential for thousands of constituents and their families,” states Senator Louis DiPalma (D-District 12). “I’m extremely grateful for this award to CareLink which will make an enormous difference in the lives of Rhode Islanders in the years to come.” 

While CareLink is the grant recipient and manager, they have partnered with numerous local agencies, including The Cove Center, Avatar, Trudeau Center, Accesspoint RI, and Meals on Wheels. CareLink is also reaching out to local medical providers, including specialty clinics such as RI Mood and Memory. “We know it is critical to engage community partners to successfully reach a diverse group of individuals who will benefit from these services across the state,” says Robyn Earley, Chief Growth Officer of CareLink. 

“We know these programs are impactful and we are working to integrate these services into the larger landscape of resources for persons with dementia and related disorders, adds Earley. 

Looking for Participants

On May 26, 2022, Earley reports that CareLink began its recruitment efforts for study participants in the community through general outreach. “We are now working on outreach to Rhode Island medical providers, senior centers, intellectual and developmental disability service organizations, senior housing, and other community agencies that serve individuals with cognitive impairments. We are targeting individuals at home through outreach/partnership with MOW, Hope Health, etc.” she says, noting that a plan is in place to outreach to Resident Services Coordinators at senior high-rises to reach the live-alone population.

“The investment in these therapeutic tools has a significant impact on the quality of life and independence of those with dementia,” she says. These interventions enable individuals with cognitive impairments such as ADRD to live longer and more successfully in the community. 

Ultimately, CareLink intends to provide services to over 300 people by the end of grant, three years from now.  

“We have already learned so much from the first month of service and I anticipate continued growth and learning throughout,” says Earley.

For details about this study or for referrals, please contact CareLink at ADPLdementia@carelink.org.  Or call 401 490-7610, Ext. 116.  

To learn more about CareLink, go to www.carelinkri.org/

Herb Weiss, LRI’12, a Pawtucket writer covering aging, health care and medical issues. To purchase his books, Taking Charge: Collected Stories on Aging Boldly, and a sequel, go to herbweiss.com.

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