A care coordination programme for patients with Alzheimer's and their carers resulted in improvements in psychosocial function of patients with dementia. The programme, a partnership between community and health organisations, also showed positive results for carers. The work is published in the journal Alzheimer's Research and Therapy and shows that non-pharmacological programs and interventions can play a role in improving care for people with dementia and their family caregivers.

Alzheimer's is the most common form of dementia. It affects the brain and has a number of symptoms ranging from memory loss to mood swings and depression.

Partners in Dementia Care (PDC) is a partnership between healthcare and community agencies that provides care coordination for medical and non-medical needs of both patients and carers. The program consists of assessment setting goals, and ongoing care goals to facilitate improved cooperation between medical care and community services.

Baseline interviews were conducted with 333 patients, 263 of whom completed six month follow-ups and 194 had 12-month follow-ups. Those on the care programme had significantly less adverse outcomes at six months than those receiving usual care, particularly for more impaired patients. This included: reduced relationship strain and depression; reduced unmet need, and less embarrassment about memory problems. At 12 months, more impaired veterans had further reductions in unmet need.

According to co-authors Drs. David Bass, from the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging, and Mark Kunik, US Department of Veterans Affairs, the research say: "As the program is delivered primarily by telephone and computer, it may be a valuable strategy for serving hard to reach rural populations and others who lack easy access to care. It has the potential to influence national policy within the US, by representing an effective methodology for bridging and linking healthcare and community services."