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Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) disease (COVID-19) has high morbidity and mortality in older adults and people with dementia. Infection control and prevention measures potentially reduce transmission within hospitals.
We aimed to replicate our earlier study of London mental health in-patients to examine changes in clinical guidance and practice and associated COVID-19 prevalence and outcomes between COVID-19 waves 1 and 2 (1 March to 30 April 2020 and 14 December 2020 to 15 February 2021).
We collected the 2 month period prevalence of wave 2 of COVID-19 in older (≥65 years) in-patients and those with dementia, as well as patients’ characteristics, management and outcomes, including vaccinations. We compared these results with those of our wave 1 study.
Sites reported that routine testing and personal protective equipment were available, and routine patient isolation on admission occurred throughout wave 2. COVID-19 infection occurred in 91/358 (25%; 95% CI 21–30%) v. 131/344, (38%; 95% CI 33–43%) P < 0.001 in wave 1. Hospitals identified more asymptomatic carriers (26/91; 29% v. 16/130; 12%) and fewer deaths (12/91; 13% v. 19/131; 15%; odds ratio = 0.92; 0.37–1.81) compared with wave 1. The patient vaccination uptake rate was 49/58 (85%).
Patients in psychiatric in-patient settings, mostly admitted without known SARS-CoV-2 infection, had a high risk of infection compared with people in the community but lower than that during wave 1. Availability of infection control measures in line with a policy of parity of esteem between mental and physical health appears to have lowered within-hospital COVID-19 infections and deaths. Cautious management of vulnerable patient groups including mental health patients may reduce the future impact of COVID-19.
Despite policy pressure and concerns regarding the use of antipsychotics and benzodiazepines, many care home residents with dementia are prescribed psychotropic medication, often off licence. This is the first large study to report psychotropic prescribing and ‘as required’ administration patterns in English care homes.
To explore the prevalence and associates of psychotropic prescription in care home residents with dementia and compare the results with national guidance.
We collected data in a longitudinal cohort study of residents with diagnosed or probable dementia in 86 care homes in England in 2014–2016. We reported the prevalence of psychotropic (antipsychotics, anxiolytics/hypnotics, antidepressants) prescriptions and drug receipt. We explored the associations between resident factors (sociodemographic, agitation [Cohen–Mansfield Agitation Inventory], dementia severity [Clinical Dementia Rating]) and care home factors (type, ownership, size, dementia registration/specialism, quality rating) in prescription and ‘as required’ administration, using multilevel regression models.
We analysed data from 1425 residents. At baseline, 822 residents (57.7%, 95% CI: 55.1–60.2) were prescribed a psychotropic drug, 310 residents (21.8% 95% CI: 19.7–24.0) were prescribed an anxiolytic/hypnotic, 232 (94.3%, 95% CI: 90.6–96.6) were prescribed one antipsychotic and 14 (5.7%, 95% CI: 3.4–9.4) were prescribed two antipsychotics. The median prescription duration during the study was 1 year. Residents with clinically significant agitation were prescribed more antipsychotics (odds ratio [OR] = 2.00, 95% CI: 1.64–2.45) and anxiolytics/hypnotics (OR = 2.81, 95% CI: 2.31–3.40).
Antipsychotics and anxiolytics/hypnotics are more commonly prescribed for people with dementia in care homes than in the community, and prescribing may not reflect guidelines. Policies which advocate reduced use of psychotropics should better support psychosocial interventions.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic led to measures that reduced social contact and support. We explored whether UK residents with more frequent or supportive social contact had fewer depressive symptoms during March−August 2020, and potential factors moderating the relationship.
A convenience sample of UK dwelling participants aged ⩾18 in the internet-based longitudinal COVID-19 Social Study completed up to 22 weekly questionnaires about face-to-face and phone/video social contact frequency, perceived social support, and depressive symptoms using the PHQ-9. Mixed linear models examined associations between social contact and support, and depressive symptoms. We examined for interaction by empathic concern, perspective taking and pre-COVID social contact frequency.
In 71 117 people with mean age 49 years (standard deviation 15), those with high perceived social support scored 1.836 (1.801–1.871) points lower on PHQ-9 than those with low support. Daily face-to-face or phone/video contact was associated with lower depressive symptoms (0.258 (95% confidence interval 0.225–0.290) and 0.117 (0.080–0.154), respectively) compared to no contact. The negative association between social relationships and depressive symptoms was stronger for those with high empathic concern, perspective taking and usual sociability.
We found during lockdown that those with higher quality or more face-to-face or phone/video contact had fewer depressive symptoms. Contact quality was more strongly associated than quantity. People who were usually more sociable or had higher empathy had more depressive symptoms during enforced reduced contact. The results have implications for COVID-19 and potential future pandemic management, and for understanding the relationship between social factors and mental health.
As in other countries, Portuguese family caregivers have unmet needs regarding information and distress. START (STrAtegies for RelaTives) is a manual-based coping intervention for families of people with dementia, including coping strategies and stress-management components, by Livingston and colleagues (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/psychiatry/research/mental-health-older-people/projects/start). In the UK, START has been clinically effective, immediately and continuing even after 6-years, without increasing costs. Clinical training and supervision ensures treatment fidelity. In Portugal, these kind of interventions are less available and, when provided, are mostly supportive and fail to address coping strategies. Paradoxically, recruitment may also prove challenging.
We describe the development of the Portuguese translation of START, incorporating guidance from the UK team, and a pilot study of delivery to family caregivers of people with dementia. We will also discuss the challenges of recruiting participants and delivering the intervention.
We translated the START intervention and recruited family caregivers from neurology and psychiatry outpatients, in a central hospital in Lisbon. Our baseline assessment included the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Zarit Burden Interview. The pilot is still ongoing at time of submitting, so we focus on recruitment, baseline assessments and process issues.
During a three-month period, we recruited six caregivers. Five were primary caregivers (spouses or adult children) who had been caring for their relatives for 2 up to 10 years. Two caregivers met the international cutoff for clinically relevant affective disorder . The most frequent motivators for taking part were learning to communicate with their relatives and increasing knowledge to build community resources. Overall, the subjective impression of the therapist in charge is that the intervention seems acceptable and promising.
This pilot study will eventually lead to an improved version of the Portuguese version of the START manual. So far, the intervention seems appropriate for selected caregivers in Portugal. However, response to striking unmet needs, particularly basic home support, may need to precede interventions like START. We look forward to concluding the intervention study and analyzing the implementation challenges, as a basis to inform a wider-scale trial.
To develop a staff training intervention for agitation in people with severe dementia, reaching end-of-life, residing in nursing homes (NHs), test feasibility, acceptability, and whether a trial is warranted.
Feasibility study with pre- and post-intervention data collection, qualitative interviews, and focus groups.
Three NHs in South East England with dementia units, diverse in terms of size, ownership status, and location.
Residents with a dementia diagnosis or scoring ≥2 on the Noticeable Problems Checklist, rated as “severe” on Clinical Dementia Rating Scale, family carers, and staff (healthcare assistants and nurses).
Manualized training, delivered by nonclinical psychology graduates focusing on agitation in severe dementia, underpinned by a palliative care framework.
Main outcomes were feasibility of recruitment, data collection, follow-up, and intervention acceptability. We collected resident, family carer, and staff demographics. Staff provided data on resident’s agitation, pain, quality of life, and service receipt. Staff reported their sense of competence in dementia care. Family carers reported on satisfaction with end-of-life care. In qualitative interviews, we explored staff and family carers’ views on the intervention.
The target three NHs participated: 28 (49%) residents, 53 (74%) staff, and 11 (85%) family carers who were eligible to participate consented. Eight-four percent of staff attended ≥3 sessions, and we achieved 93% follow-up. We were able to complete quantitative interviews. Staff and family carers reported the intervention and delivery were acceptable and helpful.
The intervention was feasible and acceptable indicating a larger trial for effectiveness may be warranted.
Nearly 40% of care home residents who are living with dementia also have symptoms of disturbed sleep. However, the impact of these disturbances is relatively unknown and is needed to indicate whether interventions are warranted; therefore, we aimed to investigate the impact.
One-to-one semi-structured interviews.
Four UK care homes.
We interviewed 18 nurses and care assistants about residents with sleep disturbances.
We used a topic guide to explore staff experience of sleep disturbance in residents with dementia. The interviews were audio recorded and transcribed and then analyzed thematically by two researchers independently.
Staff described that sleep disturbances in most, but not all, residents impacted negatively on the resident, other residents, staff, and relatives. Residents became more irritable or agitated if they had slept badly. They slept in the daytime after a bad night, which then increased their chances of being awake the following night. For some, being sleepy in the day led to falls, missing medication, drinks, and meals. Staff perceived hypnotics as having low efficacy, but increasing the risk of falls and drowsiness. Other residents were disturbed by noise, and staff described stress when several residents had sleep disturbance. Some of the strategies reported by staff to deal with sleep disturbances such as feeding or providing caffeinated tea at night might be counterproductive.
Sleep disturbances in care home residents living with dementia negatively affect their physical and psychological well-being. These disturbances also disturb other residents and increase stress in staff.
The START (STrAtegies for RelaTives) intervention reduced depressive and anxiety symptoms of family carers of relatives with dementia at home over 2 years and was cost-effective.
To assess the clinical effectiveness over 6 years and the impact on costs and care home admission.
We conducted a randomised, parallel group, superiority trial recruiting from 4 November 2009 to 8 June 2011 with 6-year follow-up (trial registration: ISCTRN 70017938). A total of 260 self-identified family carers of people with dementia were randomised 2:1 to START, an eight-session manual-based coping intervention delivered by supervised psychology graduates, or to treatment as usual (TAU). The primary outcome was affective symptoms (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, total score (HADS-T)). Secondary outcomes included patient and carer service costs and care home admission.
In total, 222 (85.4%) of 173 carers randomised to START and 87 to TAU were included in the 6-year clinical efficacy analysis. Over 72 months, compared with TAU, the intervention group had improved scores on HADS-T (adjusted mean difference −2.00 points, 95% CI −3.38 to −0.63). Patient-related costs (START versus TAU, respectively: median £5759 v. £16 964 in the final year; P = 0.07) and carer-related costs (median £377 v. £274 in the final year) were not significantly different between groups nor were group differences in time until care home (intensity ratio START:TAU was 0.88, 95% CI 0.58–1.35).
START is clinically effective and this effect lasts for 6 years without increasing costs. This is the first intervention with such a long-term clinical and possible economic benefit and has potential to make a difference to individual carers.
Declarations of interest
G.L., Z.W. and C.C. are supported by the UCLH National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Centre. G.L. and P.R. were in part supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) North Thames at Bart's Health NHS Trust. The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health. Z.W. reports during the conduct of the study; personal fees from GE Healthcare, grants from GE Healthcare, grants from Lundbeck, other from GE Healthcare, outside the submitted work.
Chapter 1 discusses the welcome drop in early death and the corresponding rise in the numbers of older people and those with dementia. In tandem with the rise in the numbers of older people throughout the world comes the increase in the numbers of family carers who are looking after them. More than 70% of people with dementia in high-income countries live in their own homes supported mainly by family [1,2]. In low- and middle-income countries there is less care home provision and thus a higher percentage of people with dementia live at home .
Care home staff stress and burnout may be related to high turnover and associated with poorer quality care. We systematically reviewed and meta-analyzed studies reporting stress and burnout and associated factors in staff for people living with dementia in long-term care.
We searched MEDLINE, PsycINFO, Web of Science databases, and CINAHL database from January 2009 to August 2017. Two raters independently rated study validity using standardized criteria. We meta-analyzed burnout scores across comparable studies using a random effects model.
17/2854 identified studies met inclusion criteria. Eight of the nine studies reporting mean Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) scores found low or moderate burnout levels. Meta-analysis of four studies using the 22-item MBI (n = 598) found moderate emotional exhaustion levels (mean 18.34, 95% Confidence Intervals 14.59–22.10), low depersonalization (6.29, 2.39–10.19), and moderate personal accomplishment (33.29, 20.13–46.46). All three studies examining mental health-related quality of life reported lower levels in carer age and sex matched populations. Staff factors associated with higher burnout and stress included: lower job satisfaction, lower perceived adequacy of staffing levels, poor care home environment, feeling unsupported, rating home leadership as poor and caring for residents exhibiting agitated behavior. There was preliminary evidence that speaking English as a first language and working shifts were associated with lower burnout levels.
Most care staff for long-term care residents with dementia experience low or moderate burnout levels. Prospective studies of care staff burnout and stress are required to clarify its relationship to staff turnover and potentially modifiable risk factors.
Shared decision-making is advocated but may be affected by cognitive impairment. Measures of shared decision-making provide global descriptions of communication without detailed analysis of the subtle ways in which doctors invite patient input.
We aimed to explore medication decisions in dementia, using a standardised Treatment Recommendation Coding Scheme.
We analysed 71 video-recorded dementia diagnostic meetings from nine memory clinics. Recommendations were coded as pronouncements (‘I will start you on medication’), proposals (‘Shall we try medication?’), suggestions (‘Would you like to try medication?’), offers (‘I can prescribe medication’) or assertions (‘There is medication’). Patient responses were coded as acceptance (‘I'd like to have that’), active resistance (‘I'm not very keen’) and passive resistance (minimal or no response). Cognitive test scores, prescription rates and satisfaction were assessed and associations were explored.
Doctors used suggestions in 42% of meetings, proposals in 25%, assertions in 13%, pronouncements in 11% and offers in 9%. Over 80% of patients did not indicate clear acceptance. Patients were most likely to actively resist after suggestions. There was no association between cognitive impairment and recommendation format. Patients were less satisfied with pronouncements. Patient preference did not influence whether medication was prescribed.
Doctors initially nominate people with dementia as the decision maker, and this is unaffected by cognitive impairment. Over 80% of patients resisted starting medication, mostly through passive resistance, the most common form of disagreement in communication. Medication still tended to be prescribed, indicating that factors other than patient preference affect prescription.
40% of people with dementia have disturbed sleep but there are currently no known effective treatments. Studies of sleep hygiene and light therapy have not been powered to indicate feasibility and acceptability and have shown 40–50% retention. We tested the feasibility and acceptability of a six-session manualized evidence-based non-pharmacological therapy; Dementia RElAted Manual for Sleep; STrAtegies for RelaTives (DREAMS-START) for sleep disturbance in people with dementia.
We conducted a parallel, two-armed, single-blind randomized trial and randomized 2:1 to intervention: Treatment as Usual. Eligible participants had dementia and sleep disturbances (scoring ≥4 on one Sleep Disorders Inventory item) and a family carer and were recruited from two London memory services and Join Dementia Research. Participants wore an actiwatch for two weeks pre-randomization. Trained, clinically supervised psychology graduates delivered DREAMS-START to carers randomized to intervention; covering Understanding sleep and dementia; Making a plan (incorporating actiwatch information, light exposure using a light box); Daytime activity and routine; Difficult night-time behaviors; Taking care of your own (carer's) sleep; and What works? Strategies for the future. Carers kept their manual, light box, and relaxation recordings post-intervention. Outcome assessment was masked to allocation. The co-primary outcomes were feasibility (≥50% eligible people consenting to the study) and acceptability (≥75% of intervention group attending ≥4 intervention sessions).
In total, 63out of 95 (66%; 95% CI: 56–76%) eligible referrals consented between 04/08/2016 and 24/03/2017; 62 (65%; 95% CI: 55–75%) were randomized, and 37 out of 42 (88%; 95% CI: 75–96%) adhered to the intervention.
DREAM-START for sleep disorders in dementia is feasible and acceptable.
Trials of psychological interventions for reducing agitation in people with dementia living at home have been unsuccessful.
To inform future interventions by identifying successful strategies of family carers with relatives with dementia and agitation living at home.
Qualitative in-depth individual interviews were performed with 18 family carers. We used thematic analysis to identify emerging themes.
Carers described initial surprise and then acceptance that agitation is a dementia symptom and learned to respond flexibly. Their strategies encompassed: prevention of agitation by familiar routine; reduction of agitation by addressing underlying causes and using distraction; prevention of escalation by risk enablement, not arguing; and control of their emotional responses by ensuring their relative's safety then walking away, carving out some time for themselves and using family and services for emotional and practical help.
These strategies can be manualised and tested in future randomised controlled trials for clinical effectiveness in reducing agitation in people with dementia living at home.
Family carers report high levels of decisional conflict when deciding whether their relative with dementia can continue to be cared for in their own home. We tested, in a feasibility randomised controlled trial, the first decision aid (the DECIDE manual) aiming to reduce such conflict. Twenty family carers received the DECIDE intervention, and 21 received usual treatment. The intervention group had reduced decisional conflict compared with controls (mean difference −11.96, 95% confidence interval −20.10 to −3.83, P=0.005). All carers receiving the intervention completed and valued it, despite some still reporting difficulties with family conflict and problems negotiating services.
Agitation is reportedly the most common neuropsychiatric symptom in care home residents with dementia.
To report, in a large care home survey, prevalence and determinants of agitation in residents with dementia.
We interviewed staff from 86 care homes between 13 January 2014 and 12 November 2015 about residents with dementia with respect to agitation (Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI)), quality of life (DEMQOL-proxy) and dementia severity (Clinical Dementia Rating). We also interviewed residents and their relatives. We used random effects models adjusted for resident age, gender, dementia severity and care home type with CMAI as a continuous score.
Out of 3053 (86.2%) residents who had dementia, 1489 (52.7%) eligible residents participated. Fifteen per cent of residents with very mild dementia had clinically significant agitation compared with 33% with mild (odds ratios (ORs)=4.49 95% confidence interval (CI)=2.30) and 45% with moderate or severe dementia (OR=6.95 95% CI=3.63, 13.31 and OR=6.23 95% CI=3.25, 11.94, respectively). More agitation was associated with lower quality of life (regression coefficient (rc)=-0.53; 95% CI=-0.61, -0.46) but not with staffing or resident ratio (rc=0.03; 95% CI=-0.04, 0.11), level of residents' engagement in home activities (rc=3.21; 95% CI=-0.82, 7.21) or family visit numbers (rc=-0.03; 95% CI=-0.15, 0.08). It was correlated with antipsychotic use (rc=6.45; 95% CI=3.98, 8.91).
Care home residents with dementia and agitation have lower quality of life. More staffing time and activities as currently provided are not associated with lower agitation levels. New approaches to develop staff skills in understanding and responding to the underlying reasons for individual resident's agitation require development and testing.
We recruited eight general practice (GP) practices for a pilot cluster randomized controlled trial (RCT) of a digital versatile disc/leaflet encouraging South Asian people to seek timely help for memory problems. Primary outcomes were feasibility (proportion of patients expressing interest, consenting) and acceptability. Seventy-eight of one hundred and two (76%) potential participants consented; 76/78 (97%) were followed-up. Thirty-seven of forty-one (90%) receiving the intervention rated this acceptable. Only 17/41 (41%) accessed it; they appeared then to be more likely to seek timely help. The intervention was acceptable and feasible but a full-scale RCT would be very expensive. It may be proportionate to make this intervention available without a full-scale RCT.
Behavioural activation is an effective treatment for depression in the general adult population but it is unclear whether it is effective for older people.
To systematically review randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of behavioural activation for depression in older people.
We searched Medline, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL and online trial registers for RCTs of behavioural activation for depression in older people.
Eighteen trials were included in the meta-analyses. Behavioural activation reduced mean depression scores for older people living in the community as a stand-alone treatment: standardised mean difference (SMD) −0.72, 95% Cl −1.04 to −0.41. It was also effective as part of a multicomponent intervention (SMD −0.44, 95% CI −0.56 to −0.32).
Behavioural activation significantly reduces depressive symptoms in older people in the community; however, given that most studies are small and with significant bias results should be interpreted with caution. Further high-quality trials of behavioural activation for this age group are needed.