Background: Social engagement and depression are important outcomes for residents with dementia in long-term care. However, it is still largely unclear which differences in social engagement and depression exist in residents of various long-term care settings and how these differences may be explained. This study investigated the relationship between social engagement and depressive symptoms in long-term care dementia units, and studied whether differences in social engagement and depressive symptoms between units can be ascribed to the composition of the resident population or to differences in type of care setting.
Methods: Thirty-seven long-term care units for residents with dementia in nursing- and residential homes in the Netherlands participated in the study. Social engagement and depressive symptoms were measured for 502 residents with the Minimum Data Set of the Resident Assessment Instrument. Results were analyzed using multilevel analysis.
Results: Residents of psychogeriatric units in nursing homes experienced low social engagement. Depressive symptoms were most often found in residents of psychogeriatric units in residential homes. Multilevel analyses showed that social engagement and depressive symptoms correlated moderately on the level of the units. This correlation disappeared when the characteristics of residents were taken into account.
Conclusions: Social engagement and depressive symptoms are influenced not only by individual characteristics but also by the type of care setting in which residents live. However, in this study social engagement and depressive symptoms were not strongly related to each other, implying that separate interventions are needed to improve both outcomes.