Pittsburgh Regional Dementia Caregiver Training & Employment Program
University of Pittsburgh
Area served: Allegheny County

The Pittsburgh Regional Dementia Caregiver Training and Employment Program targets a serious threat to realizing an age-friendly community, namely the critical shortage of caregivers skilled in working with persons living with dementia. While underreported, Alzheimer’s disease is the 6th leading cause of death in Allegheny County. Given an older adult prevalence rate for Alzheimer’s disease alone of over 11%, Allegheny County has more than 26,000 older adults living with some form of dementia, far exceeding current caregiver capacity. Importantly, access to dementia care and trained caregivers is not equal across all communities with significant, documented racial disparities.

Building on pilot work, we will train hundreds of caregivers on skills essential to successfully engaging and supporting persons living with dementia. Three groups of caregivers will participate in the training:

  • Formal caregivers – healthcare professionals such as nurses, nursing aides, activity therapists
  • Informal caregivers – family members and friends who are caring for loved ones in their home setting
  • Intergenerational champions – high school and college aged students who may consider future careers as caregivers and healthcare professionals, thus driving our future caregiver workforce.

This interactive training program provides hands on experience dealing with common challenges caregivers may face. By learning how to leverage a person’s reserved cognitive skills, participants can foster engagement in daily tasks and social activities. Coaching sessions reinforce skills learned.

This program responds to the call for training, support, and growth of Pennsylvania’s formal and informal caregiver network as outlined in Pennsylvania’s State Plan for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Disorders and A Blueprint for Strengthening Pennsylvania’s Direct Care Workforce. Most importantly, this program seeks to equalize training access, and ultimately care access, across all Allegheny County communities.

Image by Emily O’Donnell, courtesy of University of Pittsburgh