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Research project: ICF to develop integrated interventions for staff and severe dementia institutionalised elderly

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Working with people with dementia can be very stressful, resulting in burnout for staff and reduced care quality for residents. The study is developing a psycho-educational (P-E) programme to provide training and psychological support to care staff working with people with moderate and severe dementia.

This research is being conducted in Portugal in collaboration with researchers from the University of Aveiro.

Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia have been identified as a major concern facing staff (professionals and care assistants) in residential care settings and are associated with high levels of staff stress and burnout.

Psycoeducational (P-E) approaches are designed to reduce staff stress by providing both education and psychological support. P-E has demonstrated positive effects, reducing perceived burden, depression, and anxiety of family carers of people with dementia, However, these approaches have not been used with residential care staff.

This study will therefore develop, implement and evaluate a P-E programme for staff caring for residents with dementia. The PE programme aims to: i) help staff to manage strain and burnout; ii) improving their approaches to person-centred dementia care and thus enhance staff self-efficacy; iii) increase the quality of care; iv) improve the quality of life and well-being of staff and people with dementia.


The study will be a cluster randomised controlled trial, where 10 residential care facilities will be randomly assigned to the experimental or control condition, 5 in each group. A total minimum of 100 eligible staff participants will be required. It is hypothesised that, compared to the control group, the PE will lead to improvements in staff and residents well-being and dementia care practices.
Data will be collected before, immediately after, and 3 and 6 months after the P-E in order to identify effects on:

  1. Staff: attitudes towards dementia (using the Dementia Attitudes Scale [REF]) burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory16) perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale16) and quality of life (SF-36 Health Survey15) and; 
  2. Dementia care practices and patients’ well-being: using video-recordings of staff-resident interactions during personal care routines.

PE impacts on the intervention groups will be examined in comparison with control groups, using descriptive and inferential statistical analysis.

Additionally, audio-recorded focus group interviews with staff members and individual interviews with service directors will be used to explore perceptions of the feasibility, benefits, acceptability and impact of the PE intervention. Data will be collected immediately after the PE and at 3 and 6 months. Thematic analysis will be used to analyse these data.

Project team

Marques A, Demain S, Figueiredo D, de Sousa L, Silva C, Nolan M


Project funder

Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT) Portuguese Government Scheme

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Related research groups

Active Living and Rehabilitation
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