Telegerontology is an approach using videoconferencing to connect an interdisciplinary team in a regional specialty center to patients in rural communities, which is becoming increasingly practical for addressing current limitations in rural community-based dementia care.
Using the remotely-delivered expertise of the Telegerontology dementia care team, we aim to enhance the caregiver/patient/physician triad and thereby provide the necessary support for the person with dementia to “age in place.”
This is a cluster randomized feasibility trial with four rural regions in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (2 regions randomly assigned to “intervention” and 2 to “control”). The study population includes 22 “dementia triads” that consist of a community-dwelling older Canadian with moderate to late dementia, their family caregivers, and their Primary Care Physician (PCP). Over the 6-month active study period, all participants will be provided an iPad. The intervention is intended as an adjunct to existing PCP care, consisting of weekly Skype-based videoconferencing calls with the Telegerontology physician, and other team members as needed (occupational therapist, physical therapist etc). Control participants receive usual community-based dementia care with their PCP. A baseline (pre-) assessment will be performed during a home visit with the study team. Post intervention, 6- and 12-month follow-up assessments will be collected remotely using specialized dementia monitoring applications and Skype calls. Primary outcomes include admission to long-term care, falls, emergency room visits, hospital stays, and caregiver burden.