State Efforts to Improve Dementia Care Getting Results

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A recent report released by The Eden Alternative® reveals the value of person-directed dementia care training in Oklahoma. The training supports the goals of a major national effort to reduce antipsychotic medication use, an issue where Oklahoma currently ranks 38th in the nation.

Shifting perceptions about dementia care is a crucial first step to changing the culture of care and moving away from dangerous overuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. - Chris Perna, CEO, The Eden Alternative

A newly issued report reveals that training in person-directed dementia care shifts perceptions and supports the reduction of antipsychotic use. This project was funded by a grant from the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) and featured the delivery of Dementia Beyond Drugs training provided by The Eden Alternative®. Based on the book by award-winning geriatrician Dr. Al Power, the 2-day training aims to shift the focus of dementia care from managing so-called “difficult behaviors” to, instead, identifying and responding to the unmet needs that are typically their underlying cause. Often overlooked, unmet needs can lead to distress and the subsequent overuse of antipsychotic medications for those who live with dementia.

In May 2015, 350 training participants, a combination of nursing home employees, surveyors, and ombudsmen, completed an assessment process highlighting their perceptions and attitudes both prior to and immediately after the training. The evaluation process revealed that participants experienced an overall 9% shift toward person-directed perceptions of and approaches to, dementia care – nearly double the project’s proposed outcome of a 5% shift. Findings showed that not only did participants make a significant move away from institutional ways of thinking about dementia care and toward a person-directed approach, but they also conveyed confidence in their ability to apply the non-pharmacological solutions that they learned.

“The impact of our training on the participants exceeded everyone’s expectations. This shows not only the effectiveness of the training, but also the need and desire for change. Shifting perceptions about dementia care is a crucial first step to changing the culture of care and moving away from dangerous overuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes across Oklahoma,” says Chris Perna, CEO of The Eden Alternative.

These positive outcomes motivated OSDH to grant The Eden Alternative an additional $284,000 to expand the scope of the project for another year. This second project phase, supported again by a partnership with the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality (OFMQ), will offer a new set of Oklahoma-based participants the opportunity to take their learning deeper. Track One of the project offers a limited number of participants the option to combine Dementia Beyond Drugs training with an online experience of the Care Partner Workshop , also developed by The Eden Alternative. This interactive, team-based training will engage family members, side-by-side with nursing home employees, to strengthen care partnerships and overall well-being on the team, as a way to collaboratively respond to the needs of those who live with dementia. Track Two of the project gives participants the option to register for Dementia Beyond Drugs training alone.

There is currently a major national effort underway to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. According to August 2015 data from the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes, Oklahoma currently ranks as 38th in the country, when it comes to reducing antipsychotic medications. While state-wide use is still higher than the national average, this is an improvement since the inception of the National Partnership, and an exciting opportunity for Oklahomans to work toward further improvement.

“Our experience in working with The Eden Alternative last year was extremely rewarding. Their educational events are always high-energy and high impact. We are eager to work with them again this year as, together, we help the nursing homes in our state learn valuable information that they can immediately take back and implement. We are confident of the positive impact to Oklahoma nursing home residents,” said Lisa Wynn, COO of OFMQ.

Funded registration is now open for qualifying organizations for both educational tracks of this new project. Click here to learn more or go to


About The Eden Alternative
A leader in the culture change movement for the past 20 years, The Eden Alternative is an international, nonprofit 501(c) 3 organization that provides education and consultation for organizations across the entire continuum of care. As a person-directed care philosophy, it is dedicated to creating care environments that promote quality of life for Elders and those who support them as care partners. To learn more, go to

About the Oklahoma Foundation for Medical Quality
OFMQ is a consulting services company focused on improving quality and healthcare outcomes since 1972. OFMQ’s consulting services include education, data analytics, health information technology, quality improvement, evidence-based practice development and healthcare review in virtually every healthcare setting. OFMQ’s projects have had state- to national-level impact.


1. Members of the media are invited to interview Chris Perna, CEO of The Eden Alternative. Contact: The Eden Alternative, (607) 793-1448, lbeck(at) to make arrangements.

2. Members of the media are also invited to cover the in-person training events associated with this grant-funded project, which are scheduled to take place in Oklahoma City and Tulsa between October 5–9, 2015. Contact: The Eden Alternative, (615) 653-8433, education(at) for more information.

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