More than 100 people die every day in Minnesota. Some deaths,
from heart attacks and accidents, are unexpected. But most
people die of causes that they might have had for months or
Allina Health is two years into a multi-year study called LifeCourse that could improve
the way people with serious illnesses live. The LifeCourse
team will work with about 350 study participants living with
dementia, stage 3 and 4 cancer and heart failure.
"Patients and their loved ones often struggle with medical
and non-medical challenges when living with a serious
illness. They try to coordinate increasingly complicated
care, and non-medical factors that influence critical care
decisions are not effectively addressed," said Eric Anderson, MD, LifeCourse
"So often, patients are given care that health care providers
assume they need. In LifeCourse, we want to start with the
patient's story and what the patient wants and create a plan
around that," said Sandra Schellinger, NP-C,
At the center of the LifeCourse care team is a specially
trained non-clinical care guide who partners with patients,
their family members and friends to learn what is most
important to them to live well. The care guide is supported
by a chaplain, marriage and family therapist, social worker,
pharmacist and nurse who support the work of the care guide
and provide resources to help patients live as they wish.
In the first year of LifeCourse, researchers have learned
that patients and families often appreciate the chance to
share their story with a skilled, compassionate listener.
Physicians have expressed appreciation for the work of the
care guide, who has helped them know their patient better.
LifeCourse has been challenged to partner with many care
teams and community services, so patients can make the most
of their available resources.
The work of LifeCourse will be featured by Twin Cities Public
Television (TPT) in a six-episode documentary called "Late
Life" that will premier March 18. The project is funded by
the Robina Foundation, in partnership with Abbott Northwestern Hospital,
Augustana Care and Walker Methodist.