Have we found a small breakthrough for people living with dementia?

In June this year, L&M Healthcare’s Whittle Hall conducted a two-week evaluation study to see if just five minutes of activity for just five minutes before a meal improved the health and well-being of its residents. The study was designed to see if an improvement in weight, nutrition, socialisation & interaction could be achieved. 10 participants were selected from their two dementia plus units. (These were residents who have more complex needs and challenging behaviours and were the people who could potentially get the most benefit from this study.) Two different activities were alternated before lunch and teatime; a music based interactive activity called the Jolly Trolley and light projected interactive table-based activity called the Tovertafel and they then filmed what happened.

10 residents were chosen to take part, 7 took part every day, one decided not to take part and two only took part when they wished to. The project culminated with a pop-up restaurant experience which some family members attended.

Amazing results were achieved

  • All but one participant gained weight, in total the group gained 10 kilos.
  • Mealtimes were calmer.
  • People who were usually assisted to eat ate by themselves
  • People were more sociable.
  • Positive behaviours were seen that we had not seen before.

Throughout the evaluation period all the residents were alert, engaged and participating in activities;

  • Residents began communicating with each other. Despite aphasic (difficulty in comprehending or formulating) language, interaction was still present, non-verbal exchanges were often positive smiling, laughing and the tone of voice used was playful despite the absence of meaningful language.
  • Hand function seemed to improve.
  • Motor skills seemed to improve or be regained.
  • Consumption of food and drink increased.
  • There was an increase in autonomy and independence – people who normally required assistance began eating without support and poured themselves drinks.
  • Increase in language/communications between residents and staff and with fellow residents
  • Increase in eye contact and engagement.

As a result of this study plans are now in progress for incorporating what has been learned into daily life at Whittle Hall and then across all other L&M Healthcare homes in the group. Interest has been expressed from a university to develop this into a research study, a paper and poster has been written and will be presented at conference.

 ‘I am immensely proud of the team involved in this study. It took a lot of planning and tenacity to see it through in every detail, and the results speak for themselves. I cannot wait to introduce this as part of daily life in dementia plus at Whittle Hall.’ said Deborah Payne, home manager.

‘L&M Healthcare are always looking for innovative ways to improve the quality of life for their residents. We offer luxurious environments that are more like five-star hotels than nursing homes, but we also work to deliver the kind of care I would be happy to place my mum in. Care that is not only about general welfare, but where possible is about improving quality of life. For people living with dementia it can be a lonely life. If we can connect and engage people through timely activities that would otherwise live in isolation, then we are doing something wonderful’ said Jeanne Davies managing director of L&M Healthcare.

A 12 minute film of the study, which captures the amazing findings detailed above is available to view on our Vimeo channel – Please click on the link to view it https://vimeo.com/356840013/3cb579ef9e

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