Evaluation of new nutrition education and training for care staff supporting people living with dementia

Authors: Murphy, J., Holmes, J. and Brooks, C.

Start date: 22 July 2017

Nutrition-related interventions that enable improvements in food and drink intake offer an opportunity to interrupt the potential risk of weight loss, undernutrition and dehydration, the consequent decline in cognition as well as alleviating the associated care burden.

Informed by our own funded evidence-based research, a combination of training tools (workbook and training film) on nutrition and hydration have been implemented for staff caring for people living with dementia in elderly residential, domiciliary care/home care, NHS and other care settings The training materials are structured into three sections: Section 1: Food and drink availability Section 2: Importance of activity: encouraging food and drink intake through activity Section 3: Importance of communication and relationships.

Using qualitative exploratory methodologies, we report the findings from an evaluation of the impact of the training materials on practice and people living with dementia.

Semi-structured telephone interviews were undertaken in 18 care staff (care homes, domiciliary care, hospital) at 3 months after receiving the training tools. The telephone interviews lasted between 10 and 20 minutes. Conversations were recorded, transcribed, and analysed using thematic analysis.

Main themes reported included: Changing environmental factors (e.g. protected mealtimes), Offering choice, Recording those at risk of or having undernutrition through nutrition screening (‘MUST’) Monitoring the quantities of drinks consumed, person-centred approach (e.g. aware of taste and preferences).

The majority of participants (15/18 participants) had changed how food and drinks were made available and introduced activity to encourage food and drink intake. 13 of 18 participants had changed practice around communication about food and drink. These preliminary findings show the potential for this platform of training to make positive changes given its flexibly that could be self-completed and/or shared by staff with their colleagues. Further research needs to widen the scope for evaluation across wider geographies to reflect differences in cultural diversity and practice in other areas.

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