University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) School of Nursing Associate Professor Rita Jablonski, PhD, CRNP, FGSA, FAAN, is the recipient of a $20,000 Palliative Research Enhancement Project (PREP) Pilot Award from the UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care to help implement her research project “Clinician and Consumer Perspectives Regarding Advance Care Planning (ACP) Best-Practice Conversations at Four Different Stages of Dementia.”
Jablonski’s project was one of three from across the University honored with a 2016 PREP Pilot Award which funds pilot research projects that incorporate palliative, supportive or survivorship care. To date, the PREP program has awarded more than $180,000 towards 10 innovative projects which in turn has helped secure more than $900,000 in external funding for those projects.
“I am very appreciative of this recognition and funding from the UAB Center for Palliative and Support Care for this very important project,” Jablonski said. “The award will be used for a qualitative study in which we are going to talk to clinicians, family caregivers, even persons with mild to moderate dementia and ask about the timing, the content and the pacing of conversations about advanced care planning, the decisions about the care you want to receive if you become unable to speak for yourself.”
The project’s long-term goal is to use findings from the study to develop guidelines and scripts for clinicians that promote the integration of palliative care into the management of dementia through advanced care planning activities.
“There is unanimous agreement that palliative care approaches are appropriate for persons with dementia and advanced care planning discussions are vital to palliative care decisions,” Jablonski said. “For the principles of palliative care to be integrated into the care of dementia patients, discussions about advanced care planning decisions need to take place earlier in the process. We hope through this study to find ways to help make it easier for everyone involved to initiate those discussions.”
The PREP Pilot Award capped a fulfilling year for Jablonski, who in 2016 was also inducted as a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) and began work on a three-year, $734,955 project for the Department of Defense (DoD) with David Geldmacher, MD, professor of the UAB Department of Neurology and director of the Division of Memory Disorders and Behavioral Neurology.
The DoD project entitled “Improving Family Quality of Life through Training to Reduce Care-Resistant Behaviors by People with Alzheimer Dementia and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)” seeks to improve caregiver burden, quality of life and related outcomes for patients with Alzheimer’s or TBI and their family members through the use of face-to-face coaching via the internet.
Jablonski was also particularly pleased to be honored as a GSA fellow, as it is formal recognition of her career research efforts that have focused on oral health for dementia patients and the care-resistant behaviors they can display, and her sustained contributions to the organization of which she has been a member of since 2001.
“This honor is special because it comes from an interprofessional organization,” Jablonski said. “The GSA is made up of nurses, doctors, psychologists, dentists, social workers, and everybody is focused on aging. For your peers across the board to acknowledge that you have made some type of impact in the care of older adults is very rewarding.
“But, in the end, I have always measured my impact when I am working with families or speaking to groups across the country or when I get an email from someone wanting to use my materials to train nursing assistants to give mouth care. That has always been my standard of success.”
Jablonski receives 2016 PREP Pilot Award
Honor from UAB Center for Palliative and Supportive Care caps fulfilling year for associate professor