Development and effectiveness of an integrated inpatient and community service for challenging behaviour in late life: From Confused and Disturbed Elderly to Transitional Behavioural Assessment and Intervention Service

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A common method of managing challenging behaviour associated with dementia is long-stay special care units, though models are very diverse. In New South Wales, Australia, the five remaining state-run long-stay special care units for this population were funded to adopt a shorter-term model which had been trialled by one of the units. Transitional Behavioural Assessment and Intervention Service Units, incorporating an integrated outreach team, were to provide multi-disciplinary assessments, develop individualised bio-psychosocial management plans for, and appropriately discharge people with significant levels of Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms in Dementia. The current study assessed both the effects of the change and the clinical effectiveness of the model.


A repeated measures design, supplemented by multiple one-time measures. A range of standard instruments were administered, patient data from other types of inpatient units were obtained, interviews conducted, and medical records examined.


Transitional Behaviour Assessment and Intervention Service units were admitting patients with dementia and a variety of significant challenging behaviours. Length of stay was shortened in all units, patients turnover greatly increased, and there was a low re-admission rate. The model was substantially cheaper than psychiatric care in two units where it was fully implemented; one unit cost the same as psychiatric care, and two units were not cost-effective because of low occupancy - related to not fully implementing the model. Referring facilities reported that in the absence of the units, their main strategy would have been to increase sedation. In the Transitional Behavioural Assessment and Intervention Service units, behavioural incidents were primarily managed through psychosocial means. It is not known whether behaviour is reduced over time, staff become better at managing the behaviour when it occurs, or both.


The evaluation showed that the model can be transferred to other units and is a cost-effective way of assessing, managing, and successfully discharging people with complex challenging behaviours, though only when fully implemented.

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