By Daniel L. Paris, MSW
Any facility can hang out a shingle and claim to
be an ADSCU, so beware of cheap imitations.
Some take patients with Alzheimer’s disease but have
made limited modifications and train their staff
with an annual in-service by their friendly
neighborhood hospital social worker. An
assisted living may turn off stoves, or a skilled
nursing designate a wing to Alzheimer’s disease.
In evaluating an ADSCU, caregivers should ask very
clear questions about facility design and staff
training. They can also check with the local
Alzheimer’s Association chapter who can often
provide a list of facilities, comprehensive
checklists of what to look for, and even where they
have done staff training themselves.
In my experience, it is the people combined with
training that truly make the ADSCU. I have
seen the most compassionate, professional staff in
very nice facilities make the completely wrong
decision due to a lack of disease specific training.
I have also seen extraordinary care in cash strapped
Veterans Administration ADSCUs because they have
phenomenal people that are terribly well trained.
Obviously the best of all worlds would be these
wonderful, well trained people in a state of the art
facility. The unfortunate reality is the right
level of care may be too far away, not covered by
insurance, or have a year long wait list.
I have learned that it is difficult to predict
which facility a family will prefer. Case and
point is that my own grandmother with Alzheimer’s
disease is not in an ADSCU. Some
patients will do fine outside an ADSCU, for example
an advanced patient with minimal Alzheimer’s disease
management needs may be fine in a traditional
skilled nursing facility. Many facilities
without the full range of design, activities and
training still provide quality care for Alzheimer’s
patients. But it is vital to remember that
Alzheimer’s disease requires very special care, and
this care is usually best found in an ADSCU.
Using a quality ADSCU is one of the most frequent
bits of advice I give to caregivers.
Fittingly, one of the places I learned this is from
caregivers themselves. Many of the horrors
stories I hear about placements I feel are caused by
an absence of disease specific training or a lack of
appropriate facilities. If one cause of stress in
the placement process is patients winding up in the
wrong facility, then using a quality ADSCU is good