Dementia-friendly interventions to improve the care of people living with dementia admitted to hospitals

The aim of this study was to identify features of programmes and approaches to make healthcare delivery in secondary healthcare settings more dementia-friendly, providing a context-relevant understanding of how interventions achieve outcomes for people living with dementia | BMJ Open.

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Results: Phase 1 combined findings from 15 stakeholder interviews and 22 publications to develop candidate programme theories. Phases 2 and 3 identified and synthesised evidence from 28 publications. Prominent context–mechanism–outcome configurations were identified to explain what supported dementia-friendly healthcare in acute settings. Staff capacity to understand the behaviours of people living with dementia as communication of an unmet need, combined with a recognition and valuing of their role in their care, prompted changes to care practices. Endorsement from senior management gave staff confidence and permission to adapt working practices to provide good dementia care. Key contextual factors were the availability of staff and an alignment of ward priorities to value person-centred care approaches. A preoccupation with risk generated responses that werelikely to restrict patient choice and increase their distress.

Conclusions: This review suggests that strategies such as dementia awareness training alone will not improve dementia care or outcomes for patients with dementia. Instead, how staff are supported to implement learning and resources by senior team members with dementia expertise is a key component for improving care practices and patient outcomes.

Full reference: Handley, M. et al. (2017) Dementia-friendly interventions to improve the care of people living with dementia admitted to hospitals: a realist review. BMJ Open. 7:e015257

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