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For feeling empowered, a sense of identity, usefulness, control, and self-worth is important for people living with dementia. We developed an empowerment intervention called the SPAN+ program to promote empowerment for nursing home residents with dementia. The aim of this study is to evaluate the feasibility of the SPAN+ program for these residents.
Healthcare professionals of two dementia special care units of one care organization worked with the SPAN+ intervention, which lasted for four months (September 2020 – December 2020). During the intervention, they reflected together on the four themes of empowerment for each resident, and set specific goals. Subsequently, they discussed and adjusted these goals with family caregivers and the person living with dementia (when possible). Furthermore, their personal professional development was targeted by specific exercises around the themes of empowerment.
We used the method of Bowen and colleagues (2009) to evaluate the feasibility of the SPAN+program in terms of acceptability, demand, implementation, practicality, integration, and possible efficacy.
Qualitative data was collected through interviews and a focus group discussion with participating healthcare professionals. Quantitative data was collected through standardized questionnaires filled in by healthcare professionals and family caregivers at baseline and at four- month follow-up.
Preliminary results show that the SPAN+ program supports healthcare professionals to increase attention for empowerment of residents living with dementia, by reflecting together with other healthcare professionals on what matters for each individual resident. Difficulties were reported in engaging family caregivers in the SPAN+ program.
The SPAN+ program seems valuable to increase the focus of healthcare professionals on a sense of identity, usefulness, control, and self-worth of people living with dementia in a nursing home, and to promote their empowerment.
Although the concept of empowerment seems useful for good care and support for people living with dementia, there is a lack of understanding as to how to define this concept. Therefore, insight is needed in what empowerment means for people living with dementia.
We performed an integrative literature review (PubMed, CINAHL, PsychINFO), including articles that addressed empowerment for people living with dementia in their title or abstract. Using qualitative data analysis software ATLAS.ti, we applied open codes to describe all relevant aspects of included articles. Common themes and categories were identified using inductive reasoning and constant comparison.
Sixty-nine articles were included. We identified four themes: (1) description of the state of being empowered, (2) the process of empowerment, (3) contribution of the environment to the empowerment process, and (4) effects on other variables. We combined these results with the conceptual framework of our previous qualitative study on the definition of empowerment for people living with dementia based on stakeholders’ perspectives into a revised conceptual framework. Subsequently, the combined information of both studies was visualized in a revised conceptual framework.
This literature review provides more details as to the role of the environment for empowerment of people living with dementia and suggests that empowerment can be considered a dynamic process, taking place through interaction between the person living with dementia and their environment. Our revised conceptual framework of empowerment can serve as a basis for future studies on empowerment for people living with dementia, and to support (in)formal caregivers in the empowerment process.
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