The average person with dementia in a care home reportedly experiences just two minutes of social interaction each day, researchers found. They also showed that out of 170 available training programs for nursing home staff, only three are evidence-based and none of which improve quality of life, the University of Exeter announced on its website.

The Wellbeing and Health for people with Dementia (WHELD) program trained care home staff to increase social interaction from two minutes a day to 10, combined with a program of personalized care. It involves simple measures such as talking to residents about their interests and involving them in decisions around their care.

The Improving Staff Attitudes and Care for People with Dementia e-Learning (tEACH) study, conducted by the University of Exeter Medical School and King’s College London in partnership with the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE), was presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference 2018. The study involved 280 residents and care staff in 24 care homes over nine months.

Carers took part in an e-learning program based on the WHELD training, with or without Skype supervision. They compared outcomes to usual care. Both treatment arms improved resident wellbeing and staff attitudes to person-centered care. The Skype-supported arm continued to deliver improved resident wellbeing four months after the trial was completed.

Joanne McDermid, of King’s College London, who presented the research, said: “Care home staff are under a lot of pressure—it’s a really tough job. It’s a challenging environment for both residents living with dementia and staff. Our program moved care staff to see dementia through the eyes of those who are living it. We found a simple approach, delivered as e-learning, improves staff attitudes to care and residents’ wellbeing, ultimately improving lives for people with dementia.

“In a traditionally task-focused work environment, our program reminds us of the human side; of the full-life experience of those living with dementia in care.”

Professor Clive Ballard, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the research, said: “Just take a moment to imagine life with just two minutes of social interaction each day. To accept this is discrimination against people with dementia. We urgently need to do better. Most care home training programs are not evidence-based. We know our program works over the long term, and we now know it can be delivered remotely. We now need to roll this out to care homes.”

Source: University of Exeter 

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