Cristina Hendrix, associate professor; Doreen Matters, program director; Tamara Griffin, former DEFT social worker; Heather Batchelder, senior clinical research specialist; Patricia Kramer, director of case management; Judy Prewitt, clinical associate; Loretta Matters, associate director; Kay Lytle, chief nursing information officer; Yesol Yang, PhD student; Hye-Young Park, PhD alumni; Richard Riedel, associate professor of Medicine; Jessica Choi, DGHI graduate student; and Eleanor McConnell, associate professor, published an article entitled "Academic-Practice Partnership for Caregiver Training and Support: The Duke Elder Family/Caregiver Training (DEFT) Center," in the NC Medical Journal.
Background: After a hospital stay, many older adults rely on their caregivers for assistance at home. Empirical evidence demonstrates that caregiver support programs in hospital-to-home transitions are associated with favorable caregiver and patient outcomes. We tested the feasibility of implementing the Duke Elder Family/Caregiver Training (DEFT) program in an academic medical center. Methods: We recruited adult caregivers of homebound patients who were aged 55 years or older from Duke University Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. Caregivers attended a face-to-face caregiver training and received 2 telephone checks after hospital discharge with DEFT services ending at 14 days of hospital discharge. We used a one-item survey to measure overall DEFT satisfaction. We also monitored 30-day readmissions of patients whose caregivers completed the DEFT program. Results: The DEFT Center received 104 consult orders in 6 months. Of these, 61 agreed to participate but 9 caregivers were unable to schedule the DEFT training and 3 decided to eventually withdraw from participation. Forty-nine caregivers received the DEFT training, 12 of whom were ineligible to continue because of change in patients’ disposition plan. Of the remaining 37 caregivers, 15 completed the full program and reported high satisfaction; 1 patient was readmitted within 30 days of discharge. Limitations: The DEFT implementation was based on academic-medical partnership and relied on electronic medical records for consult and documentation. Replicability and generalizability of findings are limited to settings with similar capabilities and resources. Conclusion: The implementation of a caregiver training and support program in an academic medical center was feasible and was associated with favorable preliminary outcomes.