Dementia is a broad umbrella term used to describe a range of progressive neurological disorders. People with dementia may not be able to think well enough to do normal activities, such as getting dressed or eating.
Memory loss is a common symptom of dementia. Person-centred activities combined with just one hour a week of social interaction can improve quality of life and reduce agitation for people with dementia living in care homes, while saving money, claims a recent study.
‘Dementia patients may lose their ability to solve problems or control their emotions. Their personalities may change and they may become agitated or see things that are not there.’
The findings from a large-scale trial led by the University of Exeter, King's College London and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust were presented at the Alzheimer's Association International Conference 2017 (AAIC). The trial involved more than 800 people with dementia across 69 care homes in South London, North London and Buckinghamshire. Two 'care staff champions' at each home were trained over four day-long sessions, to take simple measures that such as involve talking to residents about their interests and decisions around their own care.
When combined with just one hour a week of social interaction, it improved quality of life and reduced agitation. Importantly, the approach also saved money compared to standard care. Researchers say the next key challenge is to roll the programme to the 28,000 care homes in the UK to benefit the lives of the 300,000 people with dementia living in these facilities. Clive Ballard, who led the research, said that people with dementia who are living in care homes are among the most vulnerable in our society.
"Incredibly, of 170 carer training manuals available on the market, only four are based on evidence that they really work. Our outcomes show that good staff training and just one hour a week of social interaction significantly improves quality of life for a group of people who can often be forgotten by society." Doug Brown, Director of Research for Alzheimer's Society, said that 70% of people living in care homes have dementia, so it is vital that staff have the right training to provide good quality dementia care.