Written by: Lauryn Feil
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) announced on May 16, 2019 that UT Health Austin’s Cognitive Disorder’s Center in the Mulva Clinic for the Neurosciences was one of five recipients of the 2019 Innovators in Aging Award.
This first ever annual award provides state-level recognition to organizations that have worked to improve the quality of life for older adults in Texas. It is projected that by 2030 a little over 19% of the Texas population will be 65 or older, creating a need for enhanced efforts to help older adults age and live well.
Because one of the main driving forces behind the award is to help increase improvements in the services, and resources for the older adult population, submitters for the award had to demonstrate innovative concepts in the following categories of aging and living well: being healthy, being connected and being informed.
The Cognitive Disorders Center was chosen as a recipient for this award based on its transformative approach to healthcare. The interprofessional and collaborative team approach offered at the center puts patients, their goals and their values at the center of their care surrounded by a team of providers that includes doctors, advanced practitioners, mental and behavioral health providers and more that work closely together to meet each patient’s unique needs.
Robin Hilsabeck, PhD, Director of the Cognitive Disorders Clinic says, “Our memory clinic was designed with input from people with dementia and their family members. This is important because we learned what matters most to those who need our services and tailored our clinic to meet those needs. We use an interprofessional team-based approach to dementia care that differs greatly from traditional clinics by enabling us to determine a diagnosis quickly, offer medication management, cognitive-communication therapy, and counseling services in the same location, and provide support and resources for caregivers.”
“Being told that you or a family member has dementia can be overwhelming, and our team is available to answer questions and help you navigate next steps. Our goal is to help you live your best life and have hope knowing that you are not alone.” says Alyssa Aguirre, LCSW-S Manager of the Cognitive Disorders Center.
These initiatives have resulted in improved patient/provider communication, reduced time to diagnosis, clinical trial opportunities for patients and improved coordination of care. The Cognitive Disorders Clinic is also actively collecting feedback as well as other qualitative and quantitative research to track the impact of the care they deliver.
“Every day across the state many people and organizations are quietly working to improve the lives of older Texans. It is important that we recognize them for their contributions and that we encourage others to take innovative actions,” says Holly Riley, Aging Services Coordination Manager for the HHSC.