What influences the sustainability of an effective psychosocial intervention for people with dementia living in care homes? A 9 to 12-month follow-up of the perceptions of staff in care homes involved in the WHELD randomised controlled trail

01 May 2019
Fossey J, Garrod L, Tolbol Froiland C, Ballard C, Lawrence V, Testad I


Objectives: The study aims to understand the factors that care home staff felt enabled or hindered them in continuing to use the well-being and health for people with dementia (WHELD) psychosocial approach in their care home and investigate whether there was sustained activity 9 to 12 months after the study ended.

Methods: This qualitative study is part of a wider clinical trial, which demonstrated effectiveness of a psychosocial intervention on quality of life outcomes and neuropsychiatric symptoms for residents. Forty-seven care home staff within nine care homes in the United Kingdom participated in focus groups, between 9 and 12 months after the intervention had finished. Inductive thematic analysis was used to identify themes and interpret the data.

Results: The findings highlighted that staff continued to use a range of activities and processes acquired through the research intervention, after the study had ended. Three overarching themes were identified as influential: "recognising the value" of the approach for residents and staff, "being well practiced" with sufficient support and opportunity to consolidate skills prior to the withdrawal of the researchers, and "taking ownership of the approach" to incorporate it as usual care.

Conclusions: The WHELD approach can be sustained where the value of the approach is recognised, and sufficient support is provided during initial implementation for staff to build skills and confidence for it to become routine care. Further follow-up is required to understand longer term use and the impact for residents.