The Eden Alternative® Receives CMS Grant to Support Illinois’ Reduction of Antipsychotic Use

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Illinois is one of five states that will benefit from national grant-funded dementia care training that puts the person first. The Eden Alternative has received exclusive funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to deliver the training, which ultimately supports a major national effort to reduce antipsychotic medication use.

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.

The Eden Alternative® is the sole recipient of a grant from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help reduce antipsychotic use in Illinois and four other states. Funds will support the delivery of a unique educational experience featuring Dementia Beyond Drugs, an Eden Alternative training facilitated by award-winning author and geriatrician Dr. Al Power. The goal of this 2-day educational event is 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. Gone unchecked, unmet needs can lead to distress and the subsequent overuse of antipsychotic medications for those who live with dementia.

“In my nursing home work, family members would often tell me that their loved ones looked better than they had in months. They would often ask what pill I had prescribed to cause such an improvement,” says Dr. Power. “But it wasn’t a pill. It was because we had stopped the antipsychotic drug and found other ways of providing support.”

A recent report authored by The Eden Alternative revealed that training in person-directed dementia care shifts perceptions that support the reduction of antipsychotic use. The report marked the conclusion of a grant-funded Eden Alternative project in Oklahoma involving the delivery of Dementia Beyond Drugs. The project 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 after two days of training. Findings showed that not only did participants make a significant move away from institutional ways of thinking about dementia care, 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 the country,” says Chris Perna, President and CEO of The Eden Alternative.

Sixty-five nursing homes in Illinois will have the opportunity to choose between two distinct educational tracks. Track One of the project offers nine of the participating nursing homes the option to combine Dementia Beyond Drugs training with an online experience of the Care Partner Workshop (Dementia-Specific Focus), 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. According to August 2015 data from the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes, Illinois currently ranks as #49 in the country when it comes to reducing antipsychotic medications.

"This is just the beginning for a state that lags behind in understanding and implementing the new shift in caring for those who live with dementia. It is our challenge to work to increase the focus on dementia care with all caregivers around the state and these pioneers in the movement will help with that objective," said David Voepel, Executive Director of the Illinois Health Care Association.

“We look forward to this exciting educational opportunity for Illinois providers to learn about and apply evidence based dementia care practices in their communities,” says Karen Messer, President and CEO of LeadingAge Illinois. “It is our goal that the collaborative partnership with The Eden Alternative and Dr. Al Power will have a far-reaching and positive impact on how caregivers interact with and support individuals living with Alzheimer's disease and other dementias residing in Illinois nursing homes.”

Funded registration is now open for qualifying Illinois nursing homes for both educational tracks of this new project, which begins in Illinois the first week of March. Click here to learn more or go to

About The Eden Alternative
A leader in the culture change movement for the past 22 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
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1.Members of the media are invited to interview Chris Perna, President and CEO of The Eden Alternative or Dr. Al Power, award-winning geriatrician and author. Contact: The Eden Alternative, (607) 793-1448, to make arrangements.

2.Members of the media are also invited to cover the in-person training event associated with this grant-funded project, which is scheduled to take place in Woodridge, Illinois on March 3-4, 2016. Contact: The Eden Alternative, (615) 653-8433, for more information.

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