WELCOME TO DEMENTIA RESEARCH NEWS
2013 has been a busy year for the DCRCs - we reached the milestone of more than 200 projects started across the three centres since 2006.
To celebrate, this last issue of our newsletter for 2013 introduces a new format! .... more news on:
And a free feature article from Australian Journal of Dementia Care!
This issue highlights research National Dementia Research Forum, and the plenary talk on "flourishing" by Prof Kim Van Haitsma ...
2013 National Dementia Research Forum snapshot
Congratulations to DCRC- Consumers and Carers, who hosted the 2013 Forum in Brisbane in September. In a stunning new venue on the old campus of the Queensland University of Technology, DCRC-CC planned an excellent scientific program over two days - 209 delegates were treated to a feast of 44 free papers and 31 posters. If you missed the forum, you can find the full program and abstracts here.
Hearty congratulations to the following researchers whose presentations attracted awards:
Outstanding Student Poster
Outstanding Knowledge Translation Poster
Overall Most Outstanding Poster at the Conference
Dual Runners up to the Most Outstanding Poster
Christine Neville, Mittleman and colleagues
Venturato, Wendy Moyle and colleagues
Plenary Highlight: Quality of life as flourishing
Delegates at the Forum were delighted to hear a plenary presentation on the concept of "flourishing" by Prof Kim Van Haitsma. Flourishing is the concept of positive mental health and remains important in the provision of dementia care. ....
Picture: Professor Kimberly Van Haitsma, Director of the Polisher Research Institute of the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life
Prof Van Haitsma outlined factors that contribute to flourishing and the progress being made to shift the focus of dementia care in the United States. She introduced flourishing to forum delegates as positive mental health, reflected by both feeling good and functioning well. The concept centres around affect balance – negative experiences are never going to be entirely eliminated from life but the balance of positive and negative experiences has substantial effects on a persons quality of life. Research has identified that a ratio favouring a greater number of positive experiences is required to enable flourishing. Specifically, people flourish when they have 2.2 – 3.5 positive experiences for every negative experience.
This is an important factor to consider in the care of people with dementia, particularly those in residential facilities. Psychosocial needs - such as autonomy, competence, and relatedness (the need to connect to others) - remain important to flourishing, i.e. providing ways to control the balance between positive and negative experiences. From a flourishing perspective, care that respects the preferences of a person with dementia is not just ‘a nice thing to do’, but fulfils needs that improve quality of life and can reduce challenging behaviours in the residential care setting.
Prof Van Haitsma presented findings from a randomised controlled trial comparing the styles of care of 180 people with dementia in residential care. The researchers examined if intervening with a different care model (developed to meet the individual needs and preferences of each resident) presented a better model than usual care. They found that there were benefits of the new preference-based care for both staff and residents. The individualised interventions were successful at opening communication channels, elevating patient mood, and building rapport between residents and staff. An article outlining this trial has been accepted for publication in the Journals of Gerontology Series B, for which the abstract can be accessed via the link below:
This research highlights the importance of a collaborative approach between client and carer in the context of dementia care. It is easy to identify negative experiences for both a person with dementia and their carer. However, developing an approach respectful to the client's needs and preferences can reap great rewards for the outcome of care.
Translating this knowledge into practice can be a challenge as Prof Van Haitsma discussed: carers are hesitant to adopt change unless they perceive it as better than existing approaches, fits with their needs, is easy to understand, and will yield observable positive results. To facilitate the distribution of information as efficiently as possible a website with a wide range of resources has been created: