Improving care for people with dementia

Two pensioners and a nurse at lunch.
Non-institutional residential care groups are a good alternative to a nursing home (image: Colourbox)

Research project is aimed at providing comprehensive care for people with dementia and cognitive impairment in alternative residential models.

The research project DemWG is aimed at providing comprehensive care for people with dementia and cognitive impairment in alternative residential models and has been tested in non-institutional residential care groups in Bavaria, Berlin, Bremen and Hamburg. At Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, the new project is being led by Prof. Dr. Elmar Gräßel and PD Dr. Carolin Donath from the Centre for Health Service Research in the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy (Director: Prof. Dr. Johannes Kornhuber). DemWG was launched in April 2019.

The objective of the nationwide project is not only to prevent falls and admissions to general hospital care but also to improve the quality of life for people with dementia and cognitive impairment. When they are no longer able to be adequately cared for in their familiar surroundings, non-institutional residential care groups offer a good alternative to nursing homes. Special residential groups such as these are specially made to feel like home, whilst still providing professional care and support. The innovative research project DemWG investigates the issue of whether this alternative residential model which provides support at several different levels can be proven to minimise the risk of hospital admission. As well as providing targeted training for carers in the residential groups, the concept also expects doctors and consultants to become more heavily involved. It also includes special training aimed at improving the motor and cognitive skills of those living in the residential groups. The joint DemWG project at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and the University of Bremen has received approximately 1.4 million euros in funding from the innovation fund for healthcare research of the Federal Joint Committee.

The team led by Prof. Dr. Gräßel has already been successfully researching the effectiveness of the psychosocial intervention known as MAKS® for people with dementia and cognitive impairment in nursing homes and day care for several years. This intervention consists of motor stimulation, practice in activities of daily living, and cognitive stimulation. The results of the activation therapies indicate that individuals’ cognitive and daily living skills remain stable, social behaviour improves and there is a reduction in neuropsychiatric symptoms such as aggression, restlessness and disrupted sleep. Thanks to the new DemWG project, residents in non-institutional residential groups can now also benefit from the advantages of the concept. The programme has been modified to make it suitable for use in small groups such as these. The motor and cognitive exercises have been designed to positively stimulate people with dementia and cognitive impairment, without being either too easy or too hard. The approach also includes tried and tested exercises aimed at preventing falls.

Further information:

Prof. Dr. Elmar Gräßel
Phone: +49 9131 8524810