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St. Marks to benefit from state dementia care grant

Published 10:07am Monday, August 11, 2014

A local nursing home will benefit from a state grant to expand dementia care.

Ecumen, one of Minnesota’s providers of senior housing and aging services, has been awarded a $265,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to fund expansion of its nationally recognized Ecumen Awakenings dementia care program into Ecumen-managed St. Mark’s Living in Austin, Minn., and other assisted living communities in the state. The care program emphasizes managing Alzheimer’s and related dementias without highly sedating drugs and improving residents’ quality of life.

In 2010 Ecumen received a DHS grant to introduce Awakenings at its 15 nursing sites after the success of a pilot program created by Ecumen staff. Over the three-year period of this grant, Awakenings achieved a 97 percent reduction in the use of psychotropic medications, decreasing dosage or discontinuing use of more than 1,000 of these potentially harmful drugs. The new grant is for a one-year pilot program in 14 of Ecumen’s 33 assisted living communities.

“We’ve learned a great deal from our initial pilot in care centers in Minnesota,” said Chris Schultz, executive director at St. Mark’s Living. “We’re greatly looking forward to building upon that success in Austin.”

Awakenings is an integrated care program where residents, their families, doctors and care staff all work together to replace traditional drug therapies with individualized techniques that reduce anxiety and difficult behaviors.

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