The Parkinson’s Foundation has launched a new education series for healthcare professionals to improve the treatment and health outcomes of people with Parkinson’s disease.
The Education Series for Community Providers, developed in collaboration with the CVS Health Foundation, seeks to expand patients’ access to high quality healthcare by offering free courses with valuable information to healthcare professionals.
“We have found that many healthcare academic curriculums seldom cover Parkinson’s, and generally, those that do only do so briefly,” said Eli Pollard, chief training and education officer for the Parkinson’s Foundation, in a press release. “These courses are designed to address the urgent need of educating care professionals across disciplines on how to best help their patients.”
Although more than 1 million people in the U.S. live with Parkinson’s disease — 60,000 people are diagnosed annually — there are roughly only 600 neurologists with specialized training in movement disorders in the country, making it incredibly difficult for some people to see a specialist in their area. Many don’t have access to specialized care at all. The education series aims to address these gaps, providing equitable access to culturally competent high-quality care.
“The number of individuals with Parkinson’s is rapidly rising, and all healthcare workers will be treating an increased number of people with the disease,” Pollard said.
The program is particularly important for professionals who work in medically underserved communities, designated by the Health Resources & Services Administration, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as having too few primary healthcare professionals, high infant mortality, high poverty, or a high elderly population.
The courses are designed to help healthcare professionals understand how to care for people with Parkinson’s, develop customized care plans involving the inter-professional healthcare team, and enhance inter-professional communication and coordination for optimal care. They are tailored to neurologists, primary care physicians, nurses, social workers, psychologists, dentists, and community health providers.
The first course to be available, “Comprehensive and Equitable Care for People with Parkinson’s by Community Providers,” is designed to educate healthcare professionals about a Parkinson’s diagnosis, treatments, and pharmacological management. The course also highlights the importance of cultural competency to expand equitable access to high-quality healthcare. This means being aware of, respecting, and adapting to cultural diversity in a community, to be able to provide equal access to care to all people with the disease.
In 2023, the following courses will become available:
- “Optimizing Hospital Care for People with Parkinson’s” will provide key recommendations and strategies for optimal care and health outcomes for patients
- “Utilizing Quality Measures to Improve Parkinson’s Care: What Every Neurologist Needs to Know” will focus on quality measures for neurologists to deliver optimal care in their community setting
- “The Expert Care Experience: The Role of Nurses in Caring for People with Parkinson’s” is designed for nurses to better deliver comprehensive care to patients
- “The Expert Care Experience: The Role of Social Workers in Caring for People with Parkinson’s” is designed to educate social workers on how to access the acute and long-term needs of patients, direct them to adequate resources and assist in the areas of mental and emotional health
- “The Expert Care Experience: The Role of Dentists in Caring for People with Parkinson’s” is designed to educate dentists about the complexity of the disease, such as swallowing, cognition, and motor symptoms, and on recommendations for optimal oral hygiene
Registration for Education Series for Community Providers classes is available online.
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