Digital training programme improves quality of life for dementia patients living in care

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The programme is the only remote, digital delivery nursing home training programme for dementia

King’s College London and the University of Exeter have announced that their digital training programme, iWHELD, significantly improved the quality of life for people living with dementia in residential and nursing home care.

The programme was specifically adapted to COVID-19 restrictions to support homes throughout the pandemic, improve care and share best practices.
Dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that affects more than 944,000 people in the UK.

iWHELD is designed to improve support for carers and residents by training staff in delivering personalised care and can be delivered remotely with support available for care home staff.

Funded by UK Research and Innovation and published in the journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, the 16-week randomised controlled trial supported over 700 care residents living with dementia across 149 UK residential homes.

When compared to usual care, researchers found that iWHELD particularly benefitted patients who contracted COVID-19, those who showed signs of agitation when the study began and those taking psychiatric medications.

Results from the trial showed that the quality of life substantially improved after staff took part in the programme and also led to a significant drop in the prescription of potentially harmful sedative medications to residents.

The training programme is currently the only remote, digital delivery nursing home training programme available for dementia care, which offers valuable, pandemic-safe tools for improving care.

Professor Clive Ballard, University of Exeter Medical School, said: “People with dementia living in residential and nursing home care are among the most vulnerable in society.

“iWHELD is an effective, practical and affordable programme that can enable staff to improve the lives of people with dementia and can be delivered nationally and internationally – even amidst a pandemic.”

Joanne McDermid, dementia care researcher at the University of Exeter and creator of the iWHELD platform, said: “It’s the first programme to… address the needs of care and nursing homes and critically, to improve the lives of the people with dementia.”

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