Managing behavioural and psychological symptoms in community dwelling older people with dementia – A two stage report

1. A systematic review of the effectiveness of interventions

Two-thirds of people living with dementia live at home in the UK and many experience distressing behavioural and psychological symptoms.This systematic review evaluates the effectiveness of non- pharmacological interventions for behavioural and psychological symptoms among community-dwelling people living with dementia. This two-stage review undertook an initial mapping of the literature followed by a systematic review of relevant randomised controlled trials. We searched electronic databases for pertinent studies reporting outcomes from interventions from January 2000 to March 2015 and updated searches in October 2016.

We  included  studies  that considered behavioural and psychological symptom management for older people living with dementia who live at home and excluded studies conducted in long-term care settings. This paper presents findings from a narrative synthesis of 48 randomised  controlled trials evaluating interventions for people living with dementia alone, family carers alone and patient-carer dyads.

Future research should focus on the effectiveness of components of multi-faceted programmes and their cost effectiveness and include qualitative data to better target interventions for behavioural and psychological symptoms. It is important to consider family carer readiness to use non-pharmacological strategies and to develop a shared language about the inherent needs and communications of behavioural and psychological symptoms.

2.  A systematic review of qualitative studies

People living with dementia often develop distressing behavioural and psychological symptoms (BPSD) that can affect their quality of life and the capacity of family carers and staff providing support at home. This systematic review of qualitative studies considers the views and experiences of people living with dementia and care providers about these symptoms and what helps to reduce their impact.

The two-stage review involved:

(a) An initial mapping of the literature to understand the range of BPSD, and how it is operationalised by different groups, to develop a search strategy;

(b) A search of electronic databases from January 2000 to March 2015, updated in October 2016. Included studies focused on people living in their own homes. Data extraction and thematic analysis were structured to provide a narrative synthesis of the evidence.

Family carers sometimes feel that their experiences of BPSD may not be evident to professionals until a crisis point is reached. Some helpful services exist but access to support,  lack of knowledge and skills, and limited information are consistently identified as barriers to their uptake.

The lack of common terminology to identify and monitor the range of BPSD that people with dementia living at home may experience means that closer attention should be paid to family carer accounts. Future research should include qualitative studies to evaluate the relevance of interventions.

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Click here to read the full paper.

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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