Nutrition and dementia care

Murphy, J L et al. | Nutrition and dementia care: developing an evidence-based model for nutritional care in nursing homes | BMC Geriatrics. | DOI: 10.1186/s12877-017-0443-2 | Published: 14 February 2017

Background: There is a growing volume of research to offer improvements in nutritional care for people with dementia living in nursing homes. Whilst a number of interventions have been identified to support food and drink intake, there has been no systematic research to understand the factors for improving nutritional care from the perspectives of all those delivering care in nursing homes. The aim of this study was to develop a research informed model for understanding the complex nutritional problems associated with eating and drinking for people with dementia.

Methods: We conducted nine focus groups and five semi-structured interviews with those involved or who have a level of responsibility for providing food and drink and nutritional care in nursing homes (nurses, care workers, catering assistants, dietitians, speech and language therapists) and family carers. The resulting conceptual model was developed by eliciting care-related processes, thus supporting credibility from the perspective of the end-users.

Results: The seven identified domain areas were person-centred nutritional care (the overarching theme); availability of food and drink; tools, resources and environment; relationship to others when eating and drinking; participation in activities; consistency of care and provision of information.

Conclusions: This collaboratively developed, person-centred model can support the design of new education and training tools and be readily translated into existing programmes. Further research is needed to evaluate whether these evidence-informed approaches have been implemented successfully and adopted into practice and policy contexts and can demonstrate effectiveness for people living with dementia.

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