A study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in July 2017 found that just one hour per week of social interaction can reduce agitation and improve the quality of life for people living with dementia in memory care.
The large-scale trial involved more than 800 people with dementia in nearly 70 care homes, concluding that when it comes to caring for people with dementia, a person-centered approach is best. Read more about this study and why a person-centered approach to dementia care is vital to quality of life.
How One Social Hour a Week Can Improve Quality of Life in Memory Care
A large study led by the University of Exeter, King’s College London and Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, funded by the National Institute for Health Research and presented at AAIC found that just one hour of social interaction per week can improve the lives of people with dementia.
The study had over 800 participants, all with dementia, living in 69 care homes across Buckinghamshire, North and South London. Two “care staff champions” were trained over four one-day sessions to incorporate person-centered care techniques in the lives of people with dementia in their communities. The care staff champions were encouraged to talk to residents about their decision to move to memory care, their interests and to really get to know each resident on a personal level.
The study found that when these techniques were combined with one hour per week of social interaction, agitation was reduced and the lives of participants were improved.
Dr. Jane Fossey from the Oxford NHS Foundation Trust says, “Taking a person-centered approach is about really getting to know the resident as an individual – knowing their interests and talking with them while you provide all aspects of care. It can make a massive difference to the person themselves and their carers. We’ve shown that this approach significantly improves lives, reduces agitation and actually saves money too. This training must now be rolled out nationwide so other people can benefit.”
Improving the Lives of People with Dementia Through Person-Centered Care
In addition to improving lives and reducing agitation, the study also found this approach to care saved money when compared to standard care. Researchers hope to roll out their program to 28,000 memory care homes in the UK to help the nearly 300,000 people with dementia living in these communities.
Director of Research for Alzheimer’s Society, Doug Brown, touts the benefits of person-centered care and staff training, saying:
“We know that a person-centered approach that takes each individual’s unique qualities, abilities, interests, preferences and needs into account can improve care. This study shows that training to provide this type of individualized care, along with activities and social interactions, has a significant impact on the well-being of people living with dementia in care homes.”
Brown continues, “It also shows that effective care can reduce costs, which the stretched social care system desperately needs. Alzheimer’s Society is committed to improving dementia care through research. We want to see interventions like this put into practice, and will continue to fund further research to improve the quality of life for people with dementia in their own homes, care homes and hospitals. But investment in research alone cannot rescue the broken system. The government must use the consultation on social care reform to deliver a long-term solution that addresses the desperate funding crisis in our current system and shares the cost of care across society.”
Do you think this approach to dementia care is best? Why or why not? We’d like to hear your thoughts in the comments below.