Striving to improve health outcomes and eradicate dementia related disparities in the African American community, Alter recruits worship centers to become Faith Community Champions for their local community. Launched by Dr. Epps and her team in 2019 the Atlanta program serves an estimated 200 individuals annually. In addition, the program has secured over 40 African American faith community partners in eight (10) different states (Georgia, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Minnesota, Arkansas, New York, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and North Carolina) expanding the reach of Alter to close to 40,000 individuals.
Faith communities who commit to offering Alter receive support customized to their community, dementia and older adult well-being education from content experts and a stipend to help offset the cost of delivering the program. Each worship center must demonstrate their willingness and interest in becoming a dementia-friendly and inclusive community adopting tested practices and offering an array of activities and resources, e.g. education sessions, support group(s), financial stipends or respite care, dementia friendly worship services, and more. A trusted and well-regarded ministry leader or parishioner is selected to serve as the ambassador responsible for implementing the program and serving as the champion for the program within their community.
In addition, the Alter program staff deliver public health education designed for African American communities with the goal of promoting dementia awareness, educating community members on the high incidence of dementia in African Americans, and working to reduce stigma of dementia and how to find trusted medical resources to receive care. They have also prioritized partnering with dementia-oriented organizations to offer welcoming community based convenings in multiple locations.
Alter is a program of the Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, one of the top 5 schools of nursing in the nation and the number 1 school in Georgia. They make a substantial commitment to promote optimal health and wellness for all including strong support for social action in their local and global communities.