UConn Health Selected by CMS to Guide an Improved Patient Experience for those Living with Dementia

UConn is first health system in Connecticut to pilot the national GUIDE Model Program for patients with dementia and their caregivers for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Older woman and her caregiver embracing

UConn Health is the first health system in Connecticut selected by CMS to launch a new national pilot program called the Guiding an Improved Dementia Experience (GUIDE) Model to enhance support for both patients and their caregivers (AdobeStock Image).

The number of Americans living with some kind of dementia is expected to double over the next three decades. A diagnosis of dementia significantly affects both the person with the disease and their caregiver.

UConn Health is the first health system in Connecticut announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to help ease this enormous burden by beginning a new pilot program called the Guiding an Improved Dementia Experience (GUIDE) Model. The GUIDE Model emphasizes providing supports and services to both patients and caregivers, aiming to effectively address the challenges posed by dementia.

The GUIDE Model is designed to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia, while also reducing strain on their caregivers. The program will focus on coordinating dementia care, and dementia care services that support and enable people living with dementia to remain in their homes and communities, while at the same time providing caregivers access to additional educational resources and respite services. Respite care is being tested under the GUIDE Model to assess its effect on helping caregivers continue to care for their loved ones at home, preventing or delaying the need for facility care.

The GUIDE model pilot launched on July 1 and will run for eight years. The almost 400 first GUIDE participants like UConn Health across the country represent a wide range of health care providers, including large academic medical centers, small group practices, community-based organizations, health systems, hospice agencies, and other practices. Two other participants in  Connecticut announced by CMS are The Connecticut Hospice, INC. and CareConnectMD Connecticut PC.

For eligible patients with dementia, the new care model will be covered under their traditional Medicare benefits Part A and B. Patients eligible for the pilot program at UConn Health are those who visit with a UConn Center on Aging geriatrician and have a diagnosis of dementia. UConn Health will be proactively contacting its patients who may be eligible for the program, along with CMS. The UConn Center on Aging geriatricians will also accept new patients into the GUIDE Model Program.

Patients enrolled in the GUIDE program will receive a comprehensive assessment by UConn Health geriatricians and a home visit from a UConn Health navigator to identify any at home safety risks and needs. The multidisciplinary care team at UConn Health will also work with caregivers to develop a coordinated care plan and medication schedule and provide caregiver skills training, and referrals to helpful services such as home-delivered meals and transportation, along with 24/7 access to their UConn Health GUIDE care team’s phone support line. Plus, access to respite services will be available so caregivers have time to care for themselves too.

“UConn Health and our nationally renowned geriatric care expertise being selected to be the first health system in Connecticut to roll-out and test the GUIDE Model pilot program is a great achievement,” says Khadija Poitras-Rhea, LCSW, associate vice president of Population Health at UConn Health. Dr. Karina Berg, associate professor at the UConn Center on Aging and Wendy Martinson, Ambulatory Quality Manager were instrumental in the application process and quick turnaround to facilitate the pilot program’s arrival to the UConn Center on Aging. UConn’s experienced geriatrician health care providers will be administering the GUIDE Model pilot program to its patients with dementia and their caregivers.

“This program will allow UConn Health to provide vital care coordination services to address social, environmental, and emotional concerns and help people living with dementia remain in their own homes. GUIDE combines comprehensive medical care for patients with additional services like support groups, respite care, community resources and education to support person-centered care. The program has a focus on health equity and our team will work closely with senior centers, faith communities and others in underserved areas to offer the benefits of GUIDE  to help reduce health disparities when it comes to memory care for marginalized groups and promote greater health equity,” says Poitras-Rhea.

“Dementia does not affect just individual patients – it impacts entire families. At UConn Health we already have a unique multidisciplinary program that offers comprehensive global health care of patients afflicted with memory disorders. This new program will ensure that we remain at the cutting edge of efforts to improve the lives of their caregivers too through clinical care, education, and research,” says Dr. George Kuchel, director of the UConn Center on Aging and its UConn Older Americans Independence (Pepper) Center.

The health and well-being of patients with dementia also depends on the health and well-being of their caregivers, most of whom are close family members, says Dr. Patrick P. Coll, UConn Health’s chief of geriatrics and medical director for senior health. “When we provide care for patients with dementia, we also provide education, guidance and advice for their family and caregivers. We are very fortunate to have a dedicated social worker, Elizabeth Bourquin, who already helps with this aspect of patient care. Participation in GUIDE will allow us to do even more to support family members and caregivers in the future.”

The pilot program will also be a new opportunity for the UConn Center on Aging to further grow its advanced training of the next generation of dementia-specific health care workforce that will be greatly needed.

Today, nearly 7 million Americans live with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia. Strikingly, by 2060 the number of Americans living with dementia is expected to double to 14 million.


The GUIDE Model delivers on a promise in the Biden Administration’s Executive Order on Increasing Access to High-Quality Care and Supporting Caregivers and aligns with the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. Find more information on CMS’ GUIDE Model

If you’d like to learn more about the GUIDE Model at UConn Health and its UConn Center on Aging, please contact:  GUIDEprogram@uchc.edu.