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“We think of our hospital environment as a place that cares for everyone, but people with Alzheimer’s disease are truly challenged in the traditional hospital environment.”

–Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD
Chief, Division of Geriatric Medicine
Director, Center for Aging & Health

Through generous funding from The Duke Endowment, UNC’s Center for Aging and Health will train four hospitals in best practices of dementia friendly patient care. The Dementia Friendly Hospital Initiative (DFHI) will transform the hospital experience for patients with dementia – a growing number within an escalating population of older Americans.

UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus
UNC Medical Center’s Hillsborough Campus

“People with dementia don’t behave the way you’d expect in the hospital setting. Hospitalizations are traumatic for them and challenging for caregivers and families,” said Dr. Jan Busby-Whitehead, Director of the Center for Aging and Health, Chief of the Division of Geriatric Medicine, and principal investigator of the project.


UNC Hospital’s Hillsborough Campus will serve as the initial training site for the program, with three more hospitals joining in 2019: NC Memorial Hospital in Chapel Hill, Pardee UNC Health Care in Hendersonville, and Wayne UNC Health Care in Goldsboro.

Hospital educators will receive the initial dementia-friendly training, which they will adapt for all clinical and non-clinical staff. The DFHI aims to train everyone who will interact with patients, from doctors and nurses, to housekeeping, food service, and transportation. Long-term goals include linking persons presenting with dementia at participating UNC Hospitals to community resources such as the state’s 16 Area Agencies on Aging.