Alabama-based ABC Hospice, a portfolio company of the nonprofit Alleo Health System, has put in motion a new initiative to support patients suffering from symptoms of dementia, even if that is not the primary diagnosis.
Branded as Memorable Journey, the program is tailored to the unique needs of dementia patients. About 15.6% of hospice recipients during 2018 had some form of dementia as a primary diagnosis, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Organization. This amounts to more than 177,000 people nationwide. The program includes distribution of comfort kits that include specialized feeding tools, sensory interventions and supplies to aid caregivers.
“At Alleo Health System, we have developed an approach to Alzheimer’s or dementia care that is both patient and family centered,” said Greg Phelps, M.D., chief medical officer for Alleo Health System. “This program has the whole person in mind, so our care is both individualized and evidence based.”
Staffing the program are clinicians who have undergone specialized training for working with dementia patients.
Alleo Health System acquired AMC Hospice in July for an undisclosed sum, marking Alleo’s first expansion into the Alabama market. Alleo Health System was formed last year when Hospice of Chattanooga rebranded its network of hospice and palliative care providers, which cares for patients in nearly 30 counties in Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama.
Alleo is also the parent company of Hospice of Chattanooga, Palliative Care Services, Good Shepherd Hospice, Comprehensive Care, Upper Cumberland Hospice and Palliative Care Services, and Kangaroo Kidz.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half of hospice patients on long-term care services were diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia in 2015, though those conditions may not have been the patient’s primary terminal illness diagnosis.
The Alzheimer’s Association reported that the estimated 5.6 million people 65 and older living with age-based dementia is expected to almost triple by 2050, along with the roughly 16 million caring for them.
Among nursing home residents in particular, those with advanced dementia often receive burdensome interventions at the end-of-life rather than palliative care or hospice care, particularly among male patients, research has found.
“We’re proud to offer personalized, individualized care to really get to know patients and their families while providing caregiver and family assistance,” said Tracy Wood, president and CEO of Alleo Health System. “The Memorable Journey program’s goal is to reduce anxiety and agitation for our patients, while also giving comfort to our families and facility partners.”