The Impact of Culture Change on Elders' Behavioral Symptoms: A Longitudinal Study

Research Institute on Aging, Jewish Home Lifecare, New York, NY 10025, USA.
Journal of the American Medical Directors Association (Impact Factor: 4.94). 03/2012; 13(6):522-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.jamda.2012.02.006
Source: PubMed


Distressing behavioral symptoms often associated with dementia are not uncommon in the long term care setting. Culture change with its "person-centered approach to care" provides a potential nonpharmacological intervention to reduce these symptoms. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between a culture change initiative and nursing home elders' behavioral symptoms.
Seven long term care communities (nursing units in 3 skilled nursing facilities) participated in a culture change intervention designed to transform the nursing home experience from a traditional hospital-model of care to one that is person-centered. Six comparison communities were matched to the intervention communities and continued to function along the typical nursing home organizational structure. Data were collected at baseline and 2 years later.
Subjects were 101 elders (intervention group n = 50, comparison group n = 51). Each elder's primary day certified nursing assistant completed the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory, examining frequency of behavioral symptoms, including verbal and physical agitation as well as more forceful behaviors (eg, hitting, kicking) at both data collection periods.
After controlling for functional status and race, a significant condition by time interaction was found for physical agitation and forceful behaviors with the person-centered group maintaining levels of behavioral symptoms as compared with a significant increase over time among the comparison group. A trend with the same pattern was found for verbal agitation.
Person-centered care demonstrated potential as a nonpharmacological intervention for distressing behavioral symptoms. The positive impact of culture change appears to extend to elders with cognitive impairment who are less obvious beneficiaries of this model, featuring the central principals of autonomy and person-centered care.

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