Otsuka and Avanir to Help Start an Alzheimer’s Assistants Training Program in New Jersey

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by Ana de Barros, PhD |

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Otsuka America Pharmaceutical and Avanir Pharmaceuticals are working with southern New Jersey educational administrators to create specialists who can help Alzheimer’s patients and their families navigate the care continuum.

The goal is to start a one-year training program at Camden County College that leads to a specialist’s certification. Those receiving the certificate will be known as Alzheimer’s Journey Coordinators.

Otsuka and Avanir are partnering in the effort with the Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors, which is helping the Camden County area get the most out of its educational potential.

The pilot training program at Camden County College will start in fall 2018. It will be called the Alzheimer’s Journey Coordination Certificate Program.

Alzheimer’s Journey Coordinators will provide guidance and support to patients outside doctor’s offices, helping them with both medical and non-medical needs. The program is modeled on similar efforts in cancer and other fields.

The concept grew out of Otsuka’s participation in the Global Council on Alzheimer’s disease. That  organization brings together leaders from science, medicine, policy, finance, advocacy, technology, and caregiving to identify Alzheimer’s priorities and objectives.

“The healthcare system is deeply complex and the ecosystem of Alzheimer’s is fragmented and disconnected,” Mary Michael, vice president of patient advocacy at Otsuka, said in a press release. “Too often, individuals diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers are left overwhelmed and confused.

“Coordinators who have been trained to understand the unique barriers to Alzheimer’s care can help surmount these challenges,” she said. “Along with Avanir, we look forward to collaborating with RURCBOG [Rowan University/Rutgers-Camden Board of Governors] and its partnering higher education institutions.”

The board has three overarching goals. One is to develop educational programs and partnerships with industry and others. Another is to stimulate economic development in Camden. And the third is to engage with the community.

The collaboration between Otsuka, Avinir and the board will lead to an advisory committee that will  develop the certificate program’s curriculum, explore ways to obtain funding for the program, and identify career opportunities for Certified Journey Coordinators. The committee will include Alzheimer’s care practitioners and experts.

“I am confident that the program will not only improve the lives of those affected by Alzheimer’s, but it will stimulate a vibrant and sustainable health sciences community in Camden,” said Kris Kolluri, the board’s chief executive officer. “It will also establish the city as a pioneer in addressing 21st Century healthcare challenges for urban areas.”