Celtic Consulting

Successful Dementia Care Program Spreading to NYS

Posted Friday, August 29, 2014

The Foundation for Quality Care, Inc., an affiliate of the New York State Health Facilities Association, is spreading the word about Oasis, a person-centered approach to dementia care for residents in nursing homes. Susan Wehry, M.D., Commissioner, Department of Disabilities, Aging and Independent Living, in Vermont, and author of the program, conducted the training on August 27 to establish 17 Master Trainers for New York, and an additional 9 Trainers* for MA, VT, and CT. This program was funded through the NYS DOH/DOL Health Workforce Retraining Initiative.

The Oasis program has received national acclaim due to its successful roll-out in more than 200 nursing homes in Massachusetts and Vermont, and the national push to reduce the misuse of antipsychotic medications in older adults with dementia. Oasis teaches caregivers to focus on the person with dementia rather than the disease. Oasis homes in Massachusetts experienced lower rates of antipsychotic use than those not using the program, and documented improved staff satisfaction.

The overuse of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes is a major clinical and resident safety issue that has garnered attention from policy makers, consumer and provider groups, and the media at national and state levels since the launch of the CMS National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes in 2012. In New York State, 60-65% or an estimated 210,000 adults over age 65 have dementia. These frail elders are particularly vulnerable because they are unable to advocate for themselves, and are often misunderstood. Studies show that many of these behaviors in people with dementia are normal reactions to something they find scary, upsetting or uncomfortable.

“We now know that prescribing medication to a person who is simply trying to communicate that something is wrong is not the best approach,” noted Dr. Wehry, a geriatric psychiatrist with over 30 years of experience in late life mental health. “Nursing homes find that using the person-centered approaches of Oasis helps prevent some of the troubling behaviors associated with dementia. The result is an “oasis” for caregivers and residents alike,” Wehry concluded.

“The evidence is growing that reduction in the misuse of antipsychotic medication can be achieved with this model,” stated Gayle Farman, Senior Director of the Foundation for Quality Care. “Establishing Oasis Master Trainers will accelerate expansion of the Oasis program so that nursing homes across NYS can be trained to use person-centered approaches to improve care for the population with dementia,” Farman continued. 

*Celtic Consulting represented 2 of the 9 master trainers certified.