Grant for County Dementia-Alzheimer’s Help

Written by Estero Bay News

July 31, 2023

County Supervisors have accepted a State grant to pay for a program aimed at slowing dementia amongst San Luis Obispo County seniors.

Part of the State Public Health Agency’s “California Healthy Brain Initiative State and Local Public Health Partnership to Address Dementia” program; the grant would cover from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025, or two fiscal years.

The grant totals some $708,000, and would go “for expansion, planning, and/or special support activities to increase services that prevent and delay dementia among all senior-focused residents,” reads a staff report from the County Health Agency Director, Nicholas Drews. 

The agenda item also asked Supervisors to amend upward the budget for this program by $103,000, as apparently the check from the State was for more than they’d thought when the budget was adopted in June.

The State approved SLO County’s share of the Healthy Brain cash back in April, “to support the implementation of the California Healthy Brain Initiative [HBI] in San Luis Obispo County.”

That money came out of an overall funding of $4.5 million allocated as part of the State’s General Fund. How does a bureaucratic program fight something as seemingly unstoppable as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease?

“The HBI,” Drews’ report said, “aims to promote cognitive health, address cognitive impairment in the community, and meet the needs of caregivers. It recognizes the significant increase in the elderly population in SLO County, with projections indicating a continued rise in the number of residents over the age of 65. 

“This demographic trend is expected to contribute to a higher prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias in the county.”

Dementia is one disease that doesn’t seem to affect any particular type of person more than another, but seems inevitable for anyone, as they grow old. 

But the grant money isn’t going to everyone; the County wants to concentrate on a specific population of local residents. “SLO County has experienced growth in its Latinx population,” Drews said, “particularly in the agricultural and hospitality sectors, with a significant percentage falling into the low-income category. Recognizing the emerging needs of these communities, the SLO County Public Health Department has prioritized public education to raise awareness about healthy brain habits, early detection of dementia, and available community resources.

“It is crucial to provide information and support to individuals beginning to experience dementia and their caregivers. Additionally, training healthcare providers on interacting with individuals with dementia and enhancing community planning and coordination are essential components of SLO County PHD’s approach.”

County Health works with local non-profits and support groups, including the Alzheimer’s Association Central Coast Chapter, and the Promotores Collaborative, a Hispanic-centric group working to help bring health care to the Hispanic community (see: www.facebook.com/promotoreslo).

And County Health is a member of the “SLO County Adult Services Policy Council [ASPC], a collective effort of over 50 organizations dedicated to addressing the needs of adults in the SLO County,” Drews said.

So how will the money be spent? The County was required to give the State a spending plan identifying costs related to the program, according to the report. Most of the money goes to salaries and benefits of the people working in the program. 

A budget breakdown included in the report showed FY 2023/24 to spend $205,400 on salaries and benefits, and $103,300 on services and supplies, leaving $42,800 in “indirect costs.” 

In FY 2024/25 the salaries and benefits show $215,600 and $95,700 for services and supplies, with $87,700 in indirect costs. Annually, the budget shows $351,600 budgeted for spending in FY 2023/24 and $356,300 in 2024/25.

Drews’ report listed several goals of the County program over the 2-year span of the grant. They are:

• Monitoring data and evaluating programs to contribute to evidence-based practice and development of a needs assessment;

• Education and empowerment of the public regarding brain health and cognitive aging; 

• Implementation of a widespread multilingual awareness media campaign to promote brain health, reduce stigma associated with Alzheimer’s Disease and related dementias, and promote resources in SLO County;

• Development of an Advisory Committee to engage public and private partners in ongoing planning efforts to establish services and policies that promote supportive communities and workplaces for people with dementia and their caregivers; 

• Provide training to stakeholders about ADRDs, to support subject matter competencies; and, 

• Strengthen the competencies of professionals who deliver healthcare and other care services to people with dementia through inter-professional training and other strategies. 

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