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From Research to Standard Practice: Advancing Proven Programs to Support Family Caregivers of Persons Living with Dementia

Evidence-based programs hold promise to help caregiving families, but they are not widely available in communities.  Barriers to scaling up effective programs include health care and social services providers’ lack of knowledge about proven caregiver supportive services, limited technical assistance and guidance to help providers understand how to identify family caregivers who might benefit from such programs, lack of integration in existing systems of care, and lack of sufficient funding and payment mechanisms for using proven caregiver supportive services in practice settings.

This paper examines evidence-based caregiver supportive services for family caregivers of persons living with dementia, and highlights several programs that have been shown to improve one or more aspects of the quality of life of family caregivers and can be implemented in local communities.  This paper also summarizes positive program outcomes and identifies common characteristics of these successful caregiver programs and services.  Lastly, the paper recommends ways to improve the evidence base and address identified barriers to enable families to access effective support services where they live.

The paper offers four recommendations to ensure a broader reach and wider impact for improving the lives of family caregivers and those for whom they care: 1) Support more research on effective care practices and programs for diverse caregiving families and situations; 2) Create a registry of evidence-based programs and train service providers to deliver caregiver support services effectively and more broadly; 3) Conduct cost analyses and develop payment mechanisms for caregiver interventions; and 4) Encourage adoption of effective caregiver programs in managed long-term services and supports (MLTSS) and other settings.