Case Study

Providence Regional Medical Center volunteers lessen isolation of dementia/Alzheimers patients by engaging in group activities

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Long Length of Stay Engagement with Patients with Dementia/Alzheimers

Location: Everett, Wash.

Quadruple Aim: Reducing the per-capita cost of health care

Total number of volunteers: 802

Number of beds: 530

Goal: Lessen isolation of these patients by utilizing volunteers to support group activities throughout the day

Summary of program: Volunteers engage the patients to build the relationship between the patient and volunteer. This gives patients the opportunity to participate in group activities limiting the amount of isolation as they are being cared for in an acute care hospital. This also helps prepare them for moving into an adult family home or long term care facility where there are a lot of group activities. Volunteers are an integral part of socialization for the patients including reading, playing cards, "Coffee Time" and one-to-one conversations.

Roles of the volunteers: Volunteers work with the Restorative Aide to plan, set up and actively participate in the activities throughout the day. In a 34 bed unit, over half of the patients participate throughout the week. The impact is more "community" engagement to prepare them for moving into a Skilled Nursing Facility or an Adult Family Home. Patients ask for volunteers and consistently engage with them. Patients are able to remember volunteer names and days that the volunteers are scheduled. All of these outcomes allow the nursing staff to focus more on those patients who need medical care.

Roles of staff: The nursing staff continually engage the volunteers to ensure their safety, answer questions, debrief and educate volunteers. They train the new volunteers and educate them on what to expect when working with Dementia/Alzheimer’s patients. This includes how to identify when it is time to leave the patient alone and the importance of strong communication with staff.

Primary collaborators: Volunteer Services, Unit Staff, Hospitalist team, Dietary, Transition Planning/p>

Outcomes and benefits: Adult Family homes will come in to assess the patients. Specific example, they came in to assess one patient and saw how well another patient with a volunteer was doing in the activity room. In seeing this they decided to take the patient who was with the volunteer as well.

Future plans: We will continue to assess the program and make adjustments as needed.


Wendy Turner, CAVS

Manager, Volunteer Services

(425) 261-4581