jan-busby-whitehead-speaking
Dr. Jan Busby-Whitehead speaking at the ‘Dementia Friendly Hospitals Day’ event. Photo Credit: Tom Fuldner Photography

Governor Cooper proclaimed Sept. 26, 2019, as ‘Dementia Friendly Hospitals Day’ in North Carolina. UNC Health Care marked this occasion by celebrating the expansion of its special training program aimed at providing better care for patients with Alzheimer’s and related dementias. The first phase of the Dementia Friendly Hospital Initiative has been successfully implemented at UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus, where officials and hospital leaders gathered today to discuss the importance of the training.

The first phase of the Dementia Friendly Hospital Initiative has been successfully implemented at UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus, where officials and hospital leaders gathered to discuss the importance of the training.

dementia-friendly-event
Tracy Thorpe, with nutrition and food services, Dr. Jan Busby-Whitehead, chief of geriatric medicine, and Krista Well, a clinical nurse education specialist, celebrated the training of 400 patient-facing staff.

Joyce Massey-Smith, Director of North Carolina Division of Aging and Adult Services said, “I can tell you the profound sadness I experienced watching my 93-year-old mother being talked over, ignored and treated poorly in health care settings. I’ve seen some really inappropriate things done by kind-hearted people because they just didn’t have this kind of specialized training.”

The Dementia Friendly Hospital Initiative trains 100 percent of staff who could interact with patients suffering from a form of dementia. There are around 160,000 North Carolinians living with dementia, and that number is expected to grow to 260,000 in 20 years. There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, so the best current treatment is exceptional care.

Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens said, “Everyone has their stories because many of us have friends or loved ones with dementia. Some of them require around the clock care and others are in the very early stages. Having an extra sense of how to care for people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias really makes a difference in our whole community.”

mayor-tom
Hillsborough Mayor Tom Stevens spoke during the celebration at UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus.

This event marks the successful first year of the pilot program at UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus and the beginning of training at Pardee UNC Health Care in Hendersonville, and Wayne UNC Health Care in Goldsboro, with NC Memorial in Chapel Hill to begin in 2020. UNC Health Care is the first hospital system in North Carolina to implement dementia friendly training at multiple hospital locations.

“People with dementia don’t behave the way you’d expect in the hospital setting,” said Jan Busby-Whitehead, MD, chief of the division of geriatric medicine in the department of medicine, and director of the UNC Center for Aging and Health. “Hospitalizations are traumatic for them and challenging for caregivers and families. Our goal with this training is to provide special care for patients with dementia across North Carolina.”

The Division of Geriatric Medicine and Center for Aging and Health in the UNC School of Medicine created the Dementia Friendly Hospital Initiative to improve care for the growing number of patients affected by Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, and meet goals outlined by the NC General Assembly’s 2016 Task Force on Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias.