Complementary therapy for advanced dementia palliation in nursing homes

Bryan Mitchell*, Graham A. Jackson, Barbara Sharp, Debbie Tolson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
176 Downloads (Pure)


This paper reports on an action research study that aimed to collaboratively develop a complementary therapy care intervention to augment palliative care choices available to nursing home residents with advanced dementia.

An action research design was adopted that consisted of a series of action
cycles involving collaborative exploration, problem-solving planning, development and evidence gathering. A combination of mixed methods was used when gaining data at the different stages, including face to face delivered questionnaires, observational notes, focus groups, and the objective measure of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory adapted for Nursing Homes (NPI-NH).

Care home staff and relatives considered the use of Complementary Therapy to be a helpful intervention promoting that it can reduce a sense of loneliness and provide companionship for residents experiencing distress. Analysis of NPI-NH scores showed a reduction in presenting neuropsychiatric behaviours associated with stress and distress.

Research limitations/implications
Differing levels of participant group engagement may affect this study’s findings as it was noted that care home staff provided a fuller contribution to the project in comparison to relatives.

Practical implications
Implementation guidance is needed when implementing complementary therapy
within the nursing home practice to promote consistency and successful integration of an intervention that is not provided as routine care.

The findings of this study are encouraging and demonstrate the acceptability of
complementary therapies to residents with advanced dementia, where positive impacts on otherwise difficult to address dementia symptoms related to stress and distress are highlighted.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-432
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Integrated Care
Issue number4
Early online date16 Jun 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Jun 2020


  • evidence-based practice
  • health and wellbeing
  • integrated health and social care
  • holistic approaches to care


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