Social Interaction Can Improve Dementia Care

APRIL 03, 2018
Ryan Marotta, Associate Editor
Although previous research has shown that many care home residents may have as little as 2 minutes of social interaction a day, the results of a recent study have indicated that caregivers can improve the quality of life of care home patients with dementia by increasing social interaction to at least 1 hour a week.

To evaluate the impact of increased interaction on care home residents, a study funded by the National Institute of Health Research and published in PLOS Medicine launched a trial program enrolling over 800 patients with dementia across 69 care homes throughout the United Kingdom. As part of the program, 2 staff members at each home received training on talking to residents about their interests and helping them to make decisions about own care. The research team found that patients with dementia who participated in the program experienced increased quality of life, as well as reduced agitation and aggression.

“Our approach improves care and saves money. We must roll out approaches that work to do justice to some of the most vulnerable people in society,” said Clive Ballard, PhD, in a statement. “Incredibly, of 170 career training manuals available on the market, only 4 are based on evidence that they really work. That is simply not good enough—it has to change.”

Based on the study results, the researcher hopes to expand the program to the 28,000 care homes in the United Kingdom.