App to improve care for people with dementia
Most people with dementia experience behavioural and psychological symptoms such as delusions, sleep disorders and anxiety. To improve the care they receive and their quality of life , a project is currently underway at the School of Health and Welfare at Jönköping University. The project involves healthcare workers using an app to make daily records of symptoms and care measures for people with dementia.
There is no general treatment method for people suffering from behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). The symptoms change over time and vary for each individual, often having a negative impact on the person with the disease and also negatively affecting family members and carers. In order for the person to live as well as possible, carers try to adapt support, interventions and medication to reduce symptoms.
Difficult for healthcare professionals to catch everything
To try to reduce the incidence of BPSD, there is currently a national quality register where assessments are recorded and measures are planned. However, follow-up and evaluation only take place at long intervals of several months. This is why this project from the School of Health and Welfare is now underway.
“In interviews, healthcare professionals have expressed that it is difficult for them to capture everything; the app will help them to document and summarise observations. To determine whether a particular care measure has an effect on a person, we are investigating whether daily follow-ups in the app can clarify whether that particular care measure is associated with fewer or more symptoms," says Johannes Malm, PhD student and principal researcher on the project.
Social, cognitive and physical care measures
The app registers symptoms of BPSD, care measures, activities and medication adjustments. Carers record social activities, such as when the person meets others, staff or fellow care home residents. Cognitive activities are recorded, such as the person attending singing sessions or doing crafts. Another category relates to physical activity, for example, if the person goes for walks. Staff can also record activities they think have a negative effect on the person, such as new activities that the person has no control over.
"With a better understanding of what the individual feels good about, we hope that care staff will be able to support people with dementia in having a better life,” says Johannes.
A similar app has already been used in the disability care sector. Based on that tool, the project has adapted the app to be used in the care of people with BPSD.
In the spring of 2023, a pilot study will be conducted in the Jönköping municipality to see if the app needs further development. Thereafter, the study will be expanded and involve even more municipalities. If the research shows that the app creates value, it could also be spread and used in other groups within healthcare services that need more frequent monitoring.
There are an estimated 150 000 people living with a dementia diagnosis in Sweden. Of these, approximately 90% experience behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD).
The project "Daily-BPSD - can a digital tool with more frequent measurements and follow-ups of symptoms and care measures improve the care for people with dementia and BPSD?" is led by Ingemar Kåreholt and Johannes Malm, principal investigator. Also participating in the project are Therese Bielsten, Elzana Odzakovic, Charlotta Nilsen and Deborah Finkel at the School of Health and Welfare, Jönköping University.