Environmental enhancements in dementia care facilities

Iris Gutmanis, Department of Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Western University and Steve Crawford, McCormick Care Group
2014 – 2018

Background

In November 2014, all of the long-term care homes in the South West Local Health Integration Network were invited to apply for $5,000 in one-time funding for environmental enhancements to help prevent or decrease resident responsive behaviours. Seventy-four successful applicants received funding and projects were completed by March 31, 2015.

The majority of homes chose one of four approaches: buying multi-sensory equipment such as Snoezelen; purchasing expressive therapy equipment, such as iPods and iPads; creating more home-like settings with new furniture; and reducing elopement attempts with camouflaged doors.

Five months after the enhancements had been put in place, the participating homes were surveyed and asked to describe lessons learned, share any feedback from residents and family members, indicate if they would recommend this project to other homes, and describe what factors would be likely ensure success elsewhere.

Findings

Fifty-two homes responded to the survey (70.3% response rate). All homes thought that the projects were valuable and had a positive impact on both residents and staff. The enhancements resulted in: decreased responsive behaviours; increased staff and resident engagement and quality of life; reduced depression; and enhanced communication among residents, their family members and staff. A number of homes reported that communicating with residents, family members, and staff about why projects were chosen and their expected impacts was key to success.

This project shows that even with a relatively small amount of money, long-term care homes can successfully implement environmental changes that decrease responsive behaviours and improve both resident and staff quality of life.

Dissemination
Papers/Articles
  1. Gutmanis, I., Blake, C., Crawford, S.  (2016) Reducing responsive behaviours: Optimizing resident care and quality of life with environmental enhancements. Long Term Care Today, 27(2), 20-26.
Posters/Presentations
  1. Gutmanis, I, Blake, C., Crawford, S. (2018). Optimizing resident care and quality of life in long-term care with environmental enhancements. 33st International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International. Chicago, USA, July 26-29, 2018. (Poster)
  2. Gutmanis, I, Blake, C., Crawford, S. (2017). Optimizing resident care and quality of life in long-term care with environmental enhancements. 9th Canadian Conference on Dementia, Toronto, Nov 2-4, 2017. (Poster)
  3. Gutmanis, I, Blake, C., Crawford, S. (2016). Optimizing resident care and quality of life in long-term care with environmental enhancements. Canadian Association on Gerontology (CAG). Montreal, Oct 20-22, 2016. (Poster)
  4. Gutmanis, I., Crawford, S., Blake, C., Van Bussel, L.  (2016). Long-term care home environmental enhancements designed to decrease responsive behaviours: Not all murals are equally effective. 17th Annual Mental Health Research Half Day, Parkwood Institute and Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care. London, ON, Sept 15, 2016. (Poster)

If you have any questions, please contact Steve Crawford, CEO, McCormick Care Group, at 519-432-2648 ext. 2319, or by e-mail at scrawford@mccormickcare.ca