Next Steps

    The option I feel is most realistic for pursing at this time is that of a KMS/CBR system that is put in place through a collaboration of an Alzheimer’s Disease Center (specifically Washington University’s ADC) and the national office of the Alzheimer’s Association.  This option would take advantage of the Association’s present work on a 24-hour Helpline, as well as utilize the volume of rich knowledge already being collected through the ADC’s LISTSERV application.

    Although this option falls short of producing experiential learning environments in which caregivers may safely simulate interaction with the problem behaviors of their care recipients, the KMS option does meet other needs.  KMS may also be a sound basis for later development of VR, given that VR will require data from many real-life experiences to incorporate into the simulated environments.  Additionally, an advantage of targeting Washington University’s ADC is that there is also VR research going on within the university setting.  A collaborative effort to develop KMS between the Alzheimer’s Association and this ADC could result in greater potential for the future development of VR caregiver training.

KMS would meet the following needs:

§       Provide caregivers with alternative options for learning how to deal with problem behaviors – KMS would allow caregivers to be walked through strategies step by step by a professional Helpline worker.

 Additionally, KMS would build upon the following capacities:

   I feel it would be appropriate for the Alzheimer’s Association to approach the ADC at Washington University in St. Louis with regard to beginning a partnership of this nature.  Because of the Alzheimer’s Association’s ability to provide research funding to this and other projects the ADC might consider, Washington University ADC could look upon this as a positive relationship for cultivation.

    Issues that may potentially come up during the design and implementation of this project include questions regarding ownership of the information, quality of the information, and legal liability regarding misuse of the information by consumers.  As noted by Schoech (1999), “In an information society, information is an owned resource” (p.402).  Thus, from the melding of the Alzheimer’s Association’s technology and existing data with the data from Washington University ADC there may arise some questions of ownership.  Would LISTSERV subscribers who willingly shared their stories and solutions with other caregivers via the ADC’s list be willing to contribute that knowledge on a larger scale?  Additionally, the Alzheimer’s Association and ADC may wish to examine ways in which the quality of the information input to KMS can be validated.  In this case, the CBR component will actually help to address the issue, as it compares the frequency of use and end results of specific interventions found within the data mix.  Finally, legal issues may be of concern to this partnership.  In a study conducted by Damodaran & Ophert (2000), legal liability issues were a concern raised by the specialist staff using a KMS daily.  These workers contemplated where legal responsibility might lie were information be misused – and in the case of this paper, result in caregiver injury.  This is a valid concern and the Alzheimer’s Association and ADC likely have individual policies in place to deal with legal liability issues.  It would be important to enact a collaborative effort between the legal counsel of both entities, in order to work through such issues.