Dementia Care System Redesign

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Dementia Care Updates

  • First Year Milestones!

  • The Music & Memory Program Expands!
    The Music & Memory Program received approval from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to expand to an additional 150 nursing homes. Certification of the new facilities began at the end of October!


Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias are already straining Wisconsin’s long term care system, and the number of people affected is expected to increase dramatically as the baby boom generation ages. Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades is committed to changing the way state residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias are cared for in Wisconsin. The mission is to provide appropriate, safe and cost-effective care throughout the course of the disease.

Plan in Action

The Dementia-Capable Wisconsin Initiative has five implementation teams working to put these system redesign plans into action. The teams include:

  • Community Awareness and Services;
  • Facility-Based Long-Term Care;
  • Crisis Response and Stabilization;
  • Dementia Care Guiding Principles and Training, and;
  • Research and Data Collection

Below are some of the projects that are currently underway:

Music & Memory
The Wisconsin Music & Memory Program has been designed to bring personalized music to individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and other related dementias. The Wisconsin Music & Memory Program has successfully funded 100 nursing homes to become certified MUSIC & MEMORYSM facilities through Dan Cohen's MUSIC & MEMORY SM Certification Program.

Dementia Care Specialist Program
The Dementia Care Specialist Program, embedded within select Aging and Disability Resource Centers has three goals. The first goal is to support the staff within the ADRC and county programs to be better prepared to support individuals with dementia and their family caregivers. The Dementia Care Specialist will be within or based at the Aging and Disability Resource Centers to support county agencies and ensure that those who provide these public services are knowledgeable about dementia, and are prepared to meet the needs of the people they serve. The second goal is for the Specialist to be a catalyst to create a dementia friendly community that includes businesses, employers, local organizations, etc. and raise awareness of the unique needs of people with dementia and their families. The third goal is to assist individuals and families living with dementia to continue to be active and remain in their homes for as long as they chose.

On April 25th the Department announced the expansion of this position to an additional eleven Aging and Disability Resource Centers across the state. To learn if your community’s Aging and Disability Resource Center has a dementia care specialist program, you can view a map of existing and developing programs is available at (PDF, 144 KB).

Dementia Friendly Communities Initiatives
Dementia friendly communities are developing across the state involving civic, community and business leaders in cities and towns who are striving to create welcoming and friendly environments for their residents with dementia. The DHS Division of Public Health has successfully applied for a grant from the Centers for Disease Control to fund the development of a tool kit for use by Wisconsin communities in undertaking the work of making their communities dementia friendly. The Division of Public Health will work closely with the Division of Long Term Care to support efforts across the state through local public health departments and aging and disability resource centers. The Department facilitated the formation of a Dementia-Friendly Communities listserv through a partner organization for anyone to join to share information or learn more about the dementia friendly community efforts currently underway. You can sign up for this listserv at:

History of Redesign

The large numbers of people affected, the devastating impact that Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias have on the affected people and their families, and the significant cost of providing care that can stretch over many years are all compelling reasons for re-examining and improving the dementia care system in Wisconsin.

An additional reason for undertaking the Dementia Care System Redesign now is to provide a system-wide context for addressing pressing issues raised by the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s Helen E.F. decision, issued in May 2012. In the Helen E.F. decision, the Court held that a person with dementia but with no accompanying mental illness could not be involuntarily committed for treatment under Chapter 51 of the Wisconsin Statutes, which addresses mental illness, substance use disorders and developmental disabilities. The Wisconsin Supreme Court further held that a person with dementia as his or her sole condition would more appropriately be subject to provisions under Chapter 55, which covers the Protective Service System for individuals in need of protective placement and services.

The Helen E.F. decision and the related work of a Special Legislative Committee on Legal Interventions for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias, prompted Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades to call for a redesign of Wisconsin’s dementia care system in order to provide appropriate, safe and cost-effective care throughout the course of the disease.

Stakeholder Summit

In October 2013, the Department convened a Dementia Care Stakeholder Summit that brought together 33 key stakeholders with diverse perspectives to identify concrete ways the Department and its partners can work together to make Wisconsin more “dementia-capable” and to identify priorities.


Wisconsin Dementia Care System Redesign Plan

Following the Summit, the Department of Health Services created a draft Dementia Care System Redesign Plan with a focus on steps the Department can take, working with its many partners, to address gaps in the current care delivery infrastructure and expand community and crisis services for people with dementia. In early 2014, the Plan was released as a draft so the Department could seek input from partners throughout the dementia care network.  Comments made through a Stakeholder Survey, as well as those provided directly to Department leaders, were reviewed and considered as the Plan was revised. Some of the comments were incorporated into the Plan and others will be included in implementation. Additional comments will be used to guide future versions of the Dementia Care Plan. The Plan will be updated and revised as progress is made on the initial priorities and lessons learned along the way.

Stakeholder Involvement

Secretary Rhoades has said from the start that “We are all in this together.” The creation of the System Redesign Plan began with the Stakeholder Summit in October 2013, and stakeholders continue to be critical partners as implementation proceeds. Stakeholders are currently working with DHS in the following ways:

  • Each of the implementation teams or their workgroups includes stakeholders as either members or consultants/advisors;
  • Stakeholders have opportunities to participate in periodic regional meetings sponsored by the Department. The meetings will provide implementation updates and also ask for stakeholder input on specific topics. The first set of regional meetings is scheduled in June.
  • Opportunities through the DHS Dementia Capable Wisconsin website:
    • The website will be updated often with reports on implementation activities from the last month and goals for the next. Stakeholders may sign up to receive notices of these updates through Keep Me Posted.
    • A calendar of events on the DHS Dementia-Capable Wisconsin website will keep stakeholders informed of other forums for stakeholders to participate in meetings, conferences, and other educational events related to dementia.
    • Stakeholders can also send comments and suggestions through Contact Us.

Last Revised: April 14, 2015