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A Novel Intervention for Management of Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia in Nursing Home Communal Areas: Results of a Small-Scale Pilot Trial

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Background: Behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) exhibited by persons with dementia (PwD) in nursing home communal areas are generally managed by segregation and/or pharmacological interventions.Objective: This study trialed MindfulGarden (MG), a novel digital calming device, in a Canadian nursing home.Methods: Participants were 15 PwD (mean age = 87.67; 5m,10f; mean MMSE = 11.64±7.85). Each was observed by a research assistant (RA) for an average of 8–10 hours on two separate days. The RA followed them during time spent in communal areas of the nursing home including their unit's dining space, lounges, and corridors and spaces shared with other units (e.g., gym and gift shop) and documented any BPSD exhibited. Day-1 provided baseline data; on Day-2, residents were exposed to MG if nursing staff considered their BPSD were sufficiently intense or sustained to warrant intervention. Staff rated the impact as positive, neutral, or negative.Results: On Day-1, 9 participants exhibited both aggressive and non-aggressive behaviors, 4 non-aggressive behaviors only, and 2 no BPSD. On Day-2, 7 exhibiting aggressive behaviors were exposed to MG. Staff reported MG as having distracting/calming effects and gave positive impact ratings to 6/13 exposures; there were no negative ratings. The most common aggressive BPSD on days of observation were pushing/shoving and screaming.Conclusion: MG may have value as a "psychiatric crash cart" in de-escalating agitation and aggression in care home settings.
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