The experience of hospital staff in applying the Gentle Persuasive Approaches to dementia care [2018]

Accessible Summary

What is known on the subject?
Although the seminal work of McCormack et al. (International Practice Development Journal, 2015, 5, 1) and Nolan, Davies, Brown, Keady, and Nolan (2004) provides useful conceptual frameworks in person‐centred care, research is needed to understand how theoretical concepts can be applied into practice to support dementia care. Also, evidence is needed to demonstrate the impacts of implementing person‐centred care and staff experiences.

What does this paper add to existing knowledge?
This paper adds to the emerging work that is providing a greater understanding of how team education in practice can make a difference in building capacity to improve dementia care.
We offer timely evidence and useful insights into how an education programme, Gentle Persuasive Approaches (GPA), was implemented (“what worked” and “how”) in a large Canadian hospital to improve knowledge and skills among staff in dementia care.
The GPA education helped hospital staff enact person‐centred care by cultivating shared values and a learning environment to change attitudes, practices and conditions for continuous practice development.

What are the implications for practice?
Mental health nurses in advance practice are well positioned to lead dementia education and advocate for person‐centred care in hospitals.
Hospital leaders are responsible for providing resources to cultivate a supportive environment for continuous learning to ensure the workforce gains the capacity to meet the changing demands and needs of the ageing population. System support is essential for creating conditions to enable person‐centred care.


Hospital staff lacks knowledge and skills in dementia care. There is a need to understand how person‐centred care theory can be operationalized in staff’s practices to improve dementia care.

To describe the staff’s experiences of learning and applying the Gentle Persuasive Approaches (GPA) to enact person‐centred care in a hospital.

Mixed methods, including posteducation survey and focus groups, were used. Thematic analysis was conducted to identify themes that describe participants’ experiences.

Three hundred and ten staff and leaders in a hospital participated in the GPA education and completed a posteducation survey (n = 297). After 1 year, two follow‐up focus groups were conducted with interdisciplinary staff (n = 24) across medicine and mental health programmes. Our analysis identified three themes to enable person‐centred care: (a) changing attitudes, (b) changing practices and (c) changing conditions.

This study contributes to the literature by providing evidence of how an education programme was implemented in a large Canadian hospital to build capacity for dementia care. Joint education for interprofessional staff offers value in enabling person‐centred care.

Mental health nurses are in position to lead dementia education and advocate for person‐centred care in hospitals. Staff need structural support to engage in team learning for practice improvement.

Lillian Hung Cathy Son Rebecca Hung
Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Volume 26, Issue 1-2, February‐March 2019