A personalised immersive entertainment program offered to aged care residents living with dementia provides benefits for the user and also for staff, new research shows.
Analysing data recorded during the COVID pandemic, Dr Kirsten Challinor of the Australian Catholic University’s School of Behavioural and Health Sciences found that the Moove & Groove program helped reduce displays of agitation among residents with dementia.
Speaking to Australian Ageing Agenda, Dr Challinor said that, while the calming effect on residents was well documented, “what’s less known is what this technology can do to help staff feel better connected to the people they care for.”
Dr Challinor – who will speak about her findings at the ACSA National Summit next month – said the program, which uses wireless headphones connected to devices such as iPads, helped staff learn more about a resident’s life and better bond with them.
“That resulted in staff having a much better day at work and having more job satisfaction in a space that is usually pretty stressful,” she said. The program – which was first trialled two years ago and now operates in 250 aged care homes across Australia – was “just one small, cheap tool that can be used easily that staff have been enjoying.”
Noting that the theme of the ACSA Summit is ‘Getting it Right’, Dr Challinor said: “Putting staff at the forefront of that in a meaningful way, and caring about their needs and their happiness, is a great place to start getting it right.”
The wellbeing of staff is just as crucial as the wellbeing of residents, said Dr Challinor. “After all, it’s somebody’s home. And this is the person in your home with you. And if they’re not happy, you’re not happy.”
Dr Challinor and her team were also interested in learning whether the Moove & Groove program might decrease the use of medications often used in dementia settings, such as sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs.
Looking at the data, they discovered that – while there was no dip – there was also no significant increase in the use of medications during the period. “Which is pretty impressive considering this is when COVID hit and you would probably expect those kind of medications to go up during that time,” Dr Challinor told AAA.
“When you’re working with dementia, no change is good because the prognosis is always that you’re going to get some kind of degradation,” she added. “So holding anything stable and not increasing meds is a nice result.”
The ACSA National Summit is being held in Canberra 3-5 May
Main image: Uniting residents using the Moove & Groove headphones