Aim: To determine the views of care home (CH) staff in relation to experiencing and managing behaviour that challenges (BtC) in dementia and their experiences of training.
Method: Cross-sectional survey using a self-report questionnaire, distributed to staff employed in a 20% sample of all registered dementia-specialist CHs in England, either by postal or direct distribution.
Results: Questionnaires were returned from 352 care staff (25%), representing 5% of all dementia-specialist CHs, half were CH without nursing. Respondents estimated caring for 14,585 residents, 9,361 with dementia and 5,258 with BtC. 30.2% of residents with dementia were estimated as being prescribed a medicine to control BtC. BtC reported as experienced by most respondents were: shouting (96.6%), verbal aggression (96.3%) and physical aggression (95.7%), with physical aggression viewed as most difficult to manage. Top behaviours experienced every shift were: wandering (77.8%), perseveration (68.2%) and restlessness (68.2%).
Approaches such as assessing residents, knowing them and treating them as individuals, identifying triggers, having time for them and using an appropriate style of communication, were viewed as key to managing BtC, rather than guideline-specific interventions such as massage, aromatherapy and animal-assisted therapy.
Only 38% agreed/strongly agreed medicines were useful to control BtC, which was related to the extent to which they were prescribed. Training was available, but variable in quality with on-line training being least useful and on-the job training most desirable.
Conclusion: BtC are commonly and frequently experienced by care staff, who consider individual approaches, having time and good communication are key to successful management.
Charlotte Mallon, Janet Krska & Shivaun Gammie
Aging & Mental Health, 25 May 2018