Developing the 'Good Life' Model: The Recruitment and Training of 'Dementia Ambassadors' to Provide a Novel Coaching Approach for Family Caregivers

Melinda J. Webster, Nicole G. Bouranis, Laura N. Gitlin, Gediminas Peter Gliebus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: The Good Life Model is an evidence-informed service extension program that seeks to improve the quality of daily life for people living with dementia (PLWD) and their caregivers through an integrated, replicable health professional learning service approach. To provide this service, caregivers referred from a neurology clinic are matched to Dementia Ambassadors (DAs), nursing and health profession faculty and graduate students who are trained in family-centric and nonpharmacological approaches. DAs serve as coaches to telephonically provide disease education, referrals and linkages, support and skills in managing caregiver-identified care challenges. Good Life offers a service-learning approach for developing a workforce that is prepared to care for families living with dementia, while improving the quality of daily life for both people living with dementia and their caregivers. METHODS: DAs involve various health professionals and students and receive training tailored to their level of expertise in dementia care. Regardless of dementia expertise, key competencies include 1) knowledge about dementia types and etiologies, 2) core clinical signs (e.g., behavioral and psychological symptoms, cognitive and functional decline), 3) knowledge of caregiver experiences, 4) ability to assess care challenges and serve as a coach, and 5) ability to rapidly develop rapport and engage in active listening. Caregivers receive support through bimonthly one hour telephone sessions for up to 12 sessions over 6 months. Biweekly case debriefings provide ongoing oversight and support for DAs. RESULTS: To date, 36 caregivers have been referred, with 19 enrolled having completed 123 sessions. Of the 8 caregivers who have completed the 6 month program, all have elected to continue optional post-program sessions. CONCLUSIONS: In providing access and support to underserved populations with a nonpharmacological phone intervention, Good Life demonstrates not only the need for service extension practices as part of standard dementia care to support PLWD and caregivers, but highlights the importance of preparing a workforce to help caregivers manage challenges. Furthermore, caregivers to date having unanimously elected to continue post-program sessions attests to the rapid and powerful relationship developed between DAs trained in these practices and the caregivers who gain value from participating.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e062616
JournalAlzheimer's & dementia : the journal of the Alzheimer's Association
StatePublished - Dec 1 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Health Policy
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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