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Dementia Care Rapid Response Team

A phone call service for caregivers to call when they are seeing abnormal or challenging behaviors from their loved ones with dementia

Photo of Rachael Wonderlin

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Who is your idea designed for and how does it better support family caregivers as they care for a loved one with dementia?

Caregivers have a ton of questions related to dementia care. With this service, they have two options: one, set up a date and time to call with the dementia care response team. A trained dementia care consultant will talk to the family member for an hour over the phone or video chat, providing tips and advice related to community living placement, challenging behaviors, or communication ideas. The caregiver can also call during an emergency for on-call, ASAP advice related to a behavior.

Caregivers need answers to their questions, and they need to know where to find those answers. If they knew that tips and advice were only a phone call away, I think a lot of family caregivers would be relieved. This service would be available for emergency calls or pre-planned calls. Currently I offer a pre-planned phone call service through my website here

I know that The Alzheimer's Association offers a call service, but I have not heard the best things about it. We need something better. The other problem is that, for caregivers with loved ones who have other types of dementia, The Alzheimer's Association doesn't sound accessible: it sounds like it's only for people with Alzheimer's.

What early, lightweight experiment might you try out in your own community to find out if the idea will meet your expectations?

I offer a phone call "helpline" service where caregivers can set up a time to talk with me, pay $50 via PayPal, and then I will call and talk to them for an hour. I troubleshoot all of their questions and then send them a follow-up email with a summary of what we discussed. Families are able to talk to an expert in the field and get advice about anything related to dementia caregiving.

What skills, input, or guidance from the OpenIDEO community would be most helpful in building out or refining your idea?

I'd love to take my idea to a bigger platform and make it something viable that I could even do, in the future, full-time, with a team of people. I don't know how to get it there! The UK has things like this, but it doesn't look like the USA has followed suit.

How long has your idea existed?

  • 4 months - 1 year

This idea emerged from

  • An Individual

Tell us about your work experience:

I have a Master's in Gerontology and run my own dementia care consulting business, Dementia By Day, LLC. I'm a speaker and author in dementia caregiving, and my book on dementia care came out last year with JHU Press.

How would you describe this idea while in an elevator with someone?

"I'm creating a hotline for caregivers to call, in emergencies or otherwise, when working with someone who has dementia. Be it in the middle of a behavioral issue, or because they want to help someone move in to a community care center, they have somewhere to call to get expert help. The Alzheimer's Association has a hotline, but I have not heard great things about it. I want something better."

How does your idea demonstrate our Criteria of Accessibility?

This should be a federally or grant-funded program.

How does your idea demonstrate or plan to demonstrate scalability?

I already use this program via my website, and get calls from all over the country. I can help anyone, anywhere.

How do you plan to measure the impact of your idea?

Feedback and word of mouth from clients that we've worked with

What are your immediate next steps after the Challenge?

Build this program out: let people know more about it and that it exists to help them


Join the conversation:

Photo of Joanna Spoth

Hi Rachael Wonderlin - we gathered some thoughts on your idea and would love to hear your responses!
First, we're curious about who you envision being part of your team of people. Will they be caregivers? experts? healthcare providers? We're curious if you've looked into UnitedHealthcare's Solutions for Caregivers - it's a case management service and ~10-20% of cases are Alzheimer's/Dementia related. We're working closely with UnitedHealthcare during this Challenge and heard from them that charging for a service when it's an urgent or immediate need is a tough model. In your work have you come upon on organization that's successfully modeled this, especially at scale? We'd love to hear any thoughts you might have at this early stage about how the Rapid Response Team is viable from a business perspective.
We're also curious how the Rapid Response Team is unique from organizations with case/care managers that people can hire.
Thanks and keep up your fantastic work!

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