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WEAVE: Weaving Evidence into Action for Veterans with dementia

Researchers: Claudia Meyer, Liz Cyarto, Judy Lowthian, Xanthe Golenko, Gwen Bonney
Study population: Residential aged care – Galleon Gardens
Funding support: RSL Queensland

Residential aged care services increasingly respond to the needs of people with dementia. Where possible, best practice management of health concerns for people with dementia incorporates a non-pharmacological approach (use of strategies other than medication) to:

  1. reduce responsive behaviours (i.e. the expression of something of importance to the person with dementia through actions, words or gestures in response to an environmental stimulus);
  2. improve/maintain functional capacity (i.e. the necessary cognitive and/or physical capacity to maintain/improve function with daily activities); and
  3. improve mental health (i.e. treating conditions such as depression and anxiety alongside dementia).

It is challenging to undertake best practice due to the lack of direction in identifying and delivering non-pharmacological interventions in a manner that is individual and personalised.

This 18-month project builds on work undertaken by Bolton Clarke: (1) a systematic review of literature to identify the best available evidence for the above three outcomes; and (2) a literature review supplemented by interviews and focus groups with veterans and family members to understand mental health conditions common in veterans to inform development of a Veteran Family Mental Wellbeing Series of videos. The project involves veterans with dementia who reside in the Bolton Clarke Galleon Gardens care home, their families and staff members (residential and clinical care managers, nurses, personal care workers, diversional therapist and activity officer). The project will co-design the delivery and implementation of a suite of individual and group-based interventions (by trained staff and volunteers) to improve the three outcomes listed above. It is anticipated that the evidence-based interventions will include:

  • Therapeutic music: professional use of music and its elements
  • Sensory stimulation: different techniques used to stimulate the senses
  • Reminiscence therapy: discussion of past activities, events and experiences with another person or group of people
  • Exercise: planned, structured and repetitive movement to improve or maintain physical fitness