National Dementia Workforce Study will survey those who work in homes, hospitals, clinics, assisted living facilities and nursing homes, yielding data to improve care and inform policy

Watching a loved one suffer the slow decline of dementia is hard enough.

But trying to find care for them that’s high-quality, safe, available and affordable is nearly as difficult, as millions of American families have found out the hard way in recent years.

That lack of options stems from a combination of workforce shortages, payment policies and a lack of consistency in dementia care delivery and regulation, according to experts from the University of Michigan and the University of California, San Francisco and their colleagues.

Now, fueled by new five-year funding expected to total $81 million from the NIH’s National Institute on Aging or NIA, the team will work to improve understanding of the health care workforce that cares for people with dementia, through surveys and other methods that will produce data for clinicians, researchers, policymakers and others to use.

The new National Dementia Workforce Study will survey those who are paid to care for people with dementia in all settings, from their homes, assisted living facilities and nursing home memory care units, to hospitals and clinics.

“We can’t overstate the urgency of gathering this information and harnessing it in ways that can help the 6 million Americans already living with dementia, and the millions more who will be diagnosed in years to come as new tests and treatments for early-stage dementia become available,” says Donovan Maust, M.D., M.S., a geriatric psychiatrist and health care data researcher at U-M’s Michigan Medicine who leads the NDWS team. “This investment will fill the gaps in knowledge that stand in the way of better care, and make it possible to use resources more wisely.”

Read more about this new study at UM Institute for Healthcare Policy & Innovation.