Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

A Literature-Based Intervention for Older People Living with Dementia

Academic journal article Perspectives in Public Health

A Literature-Based Intervention for Older People Living with Dementia

Article excerpt

Keywords

dementia; reading; reading and health; reading therapy; literature-based health intervention; shared reading; reading aloud

Abstract

Background: While several studies have explored the impact of literature and reading on mental health, there has been relatively little work done on how a literature-based intervention might impact on the behaviours of those living with dementia. The present report addresses the effect that a specific literature-based intervention - Get into Reading, designed and practised by national charity The Reader Organisation - might have on the health and well-being of people living with dementia.

Aims: This present study arises out of a service evaluation that specifically assessed to what extent the shared-reading intervention impacted upon behaviours symptomatic of dementia. Its aims were: (1) to understand the influence that reading has on older adults with dementia in different health-care environments; (2) to identify staffperceptions of the influence that engagement in a reading group has on older adults living with dementia; and (3) to investigate any changes in dementia symptoms of older adults participating in a reading group.

Methods: The study employed a mixed-method design conducted within three health-care environments: three care homes, two hospital wards and one day centre. The Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI-Q) assessed staffviews of any changes in dementia symptom severity for participants in reading groups conducted in the care homes. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were then conducted with staffwho attended the reading groups and/or had extensive knowledge of service users involved in all of the health-care settings. Responses to questions were recorded verbatim and then subject to thematic analysis.

Results: 61 service users and 20 staffmembers took part in the overall project. The NPI-Q results indicate that symptom scores were lower during the reading group period than at baseline. These findings were supported by the qualitative interviews, which suggested that three themes were perceived to be important to effective engagement with the reading groups: (1) the components of the reading group intervention; (2) enjoyment, authenticity, meaningfulness and renewed sense of personal identity; and (3) enhancement of listening, memory and attention.

Conclusions: In light of quantifiable data of limited but indicative status, together with strongly corroborative qualitative evidence, engagement in reading-group activity appeared to produce a significant reduction in dementia symptom severity. Staffinterviews indicated the contribution of reading groups to well-being.

INTRODUCTION

There are currently over 800,000 people in the UK living with dementia and an estimated 670,000 family and friends acting as primary carers.1 Dementia currently costs the UK economy £23 billion a year, a figure that will grow to £27 billion by 2018.2 The government has recognised the importance of improving quality of life for people with dementia and their carers, as well as the urgent need for research that develops a better understanding of the mechanisms of the disease, helps create new possibilities for intervention and promotes improvements in translating research into practice.3

Given the development of arts and social interventions that might improve the well-being of those suffering with dementia, there is a clear need for more research into which interventions work well and why. While there have been several studies that have explored the impact of singing projects for people living with dementia that have found positive health and well-being outcomes,4-8 there has been relatively little work done on how a literature-based intervention might impact on the behaviours of those living with dementia. The present evaluation addresses the impact and effect that a specific literature- based intervention called Get into Reading (GiR), designed and practised by The Reader Organisation (TRO), might have on the health and well-being of people living with dementia. …

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