ATLANTA — Georgia State University’s Gerontology Institute has received a $1.58 million grant to support training nursing home staff across the state to improve care for residents with dementia. The training will emphasize new trauma-informed approaches and reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs to manage residents’ symptoms.
The three-year project, jointly funded by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Georgia State Survey Agency, will be led by Jennifer Craft Morgan, associate professor of gerontology.
COVID-19 has had a profound effect on nursing home residents, families and staff. More than 3,000 nursing home residents died of COVID-19 in Georgia between March 2020 and May 2021, representing about 20 percent of the state’s deaths due to the disease.
“COVID-19 has impacted Georgia’s nursing home workforce and residents,” said Morgan. “Attending to the collective trauma of nursing home communities is a first step in equipping the state to reduce antipsychotic use and improve quality of life in these hard-hit residential communities. Nursing home residents living with dementia deserve a highly dementia-capable workforce.”
Georgia has one of the highest rates of antipsychotic use in nursing homes, ranking 45th in the nation, according to (CMS). The National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, led by CMS, supports the use of non-pharmacological approaches and person-centered dementia care practices to not only reduce potentially dangerous antipsychotic use, but also to improve quality of life for people living with dementia in nursing homes.
The new project, titled “A Trauma-Informed Approach to Improving Dementia Care in Georgia Nursing Homes,” builds on the momentum of the Culture Change Network of Georgia (CCNG). Founded in 2008, CCNG’s efforts support culture change and person-centered care in nursing homes and across the spectrum of long-term care services and supports.
The project will develop videos, live and asynchronous webinars, and other continuing education resources to provide high-quality education to nursing home staff and stakeholders. The training will be designed to develop the awareness and knowledge needed to improve resident care and support organization-wide sustainment of quality improvement. The goal is to have staff at 90 percent of Georgia’s nursing homes, or 332 facilities, complete the training.
Elisabeth O. Burgess, professor of gerontology at Georgia State, is a co-investigator on the project. “This project continues the Gerontology Institute’s commitment to academic-community partnerships and working together to address the needs of elders and their care partners in our region,” Burgess said.
In addition to CCNG, Morgan and Burgess will partner with LeadingAge Georgia and Georgia Institute on Aging, led by Ginny Helms, president and CEO; Walter Coffey, co-founder of CCNG and managing partner of WD International Consulting, and Kim McRae, co-founder of CCNG and president of Have a Good Life.
The Eden Alternative, where Meredith Martin is education coordinator, will receive a subcontract to provide intensive education to interdisciplinary teams of nursing home staff.
The project will also draw on research and practice experts who will serve as advisers, including Rose Marie Fagan, co-founder and founding executive director of Pioneer Network; Joan Carlson, principal of JMC Consulting; Cameron Camp, director of research and development at the Center for Applied Research in Dementia; and Leigh-Anne Royster, assistant vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Duke University.
Jennifer Craft Morgan
Morgan’s research focuses on jobs and careers, attempting to understand how policy, population, workplace and individual level factors shape how work is experienced and how work is organized. She uses a life course perspective paying particular attention to issues of social stratification related to aging and gender. Her work ties research, education and service together by focusing on the translation of lessons learned.