Helping UK-based care homes to provide better care for people with advanced dementia

Lead Investigator: Professor Dawn Brooker

Institution: University of Worcester

Grant type: Implementation 

Duration: 36 months

Amount: £389,555

Scientific Title: Delivering Excellent Care Every Day for People Living with Advanced Dementia: Namaste Care Intervention UK

What do we already know?

Palliative care addresses the needs of people who are in the later stages of a disease or are approaching the end of their lives. Without proper palliative care, people with advanced dementia may experience unnecessary discomfort or have untreated pain. This can lead to distress, depression and changes in behaviour.

The Namaste Care programme was developed in the USA and focuses on enhancing quality of life through a range of physical, sensory and emotional care practices.  These include improving pain management, ensuring proper nutrition, using music, aromatherapy and personalised nurturing communication with each individual person. Early research indicates that this care programme could be beneficial for people who are in the advanced stages of dementia. It may help to alleviate symptoms such as agitation and reduce the use of medications such as antipsychotics.

What does this project involve?

The researchers aim to find out what aspects of the Namaste programme would be most effective for people with advanced dementia in care homes in the UK and how best to put the programme into practice. 

The research team will work with 6 care homes to find the best ways that the Namaste programme can be used successfully. This includes identifying things that help or hinder bringing the programme into the care home, for example cost, and making sure that it is acceptable to people with dementia and their families. 

If this initial trial is successful, the researchers will expand it to a larger study to more fully explore the benefits of the programme as well as the potential issues and solutions that come with putting it into practice in care homes. 

How will this benefit people with dementia?

There is a need to better understand how to care for someone in the advanced stages of dementia to avoid any unnecessary distress, discomfort or pain. This study will allow researchers to understand what works well and what doesn't when encouraging care homes to adopt complex but potentially effective methods of palliative care. If successful, using the Namaste programme may help to increase comfort and quality of life for people in the later stages of dementia.