Ongoing challenges responding to behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia

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Abstract

Background:

Mid- to late-stage dementia is often characterized by behavioural and psychological symptoms, including, but not limited to physical and verbal aggression.

Introduction:

Although there is a considerable research about the prevalence, aetiology, and management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, there is limited research about the experience of caring for people with such symptoms in long-term aged care facilities.

Aim:

The aims of the study were to describe: (i) nurses' experiences of caring for people with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in long-term aged care facilities, and (ii) strategies nurses used to deal with these symptoms.

Methods:

A qualitative exploratory and descriptive design, involving focus group interviews with 30 nurses from three long-term aged care units in Australia. The transcripts were analysed using inductive content analysis.

Results:

The findings revealed five interrelated themes: (i) working under difficult conditions, (ii) behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia: an everyday encounter, (iii) making sense of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, (iv) attempting to manage behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, and (v) feeling undervalued.

Conclusion:

This study highlighted the difficult conditions under which nurses worked and the complexity of caring for individuals who have behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

Implications for nursing and health policy:

Organizational efforts to enhance the quality of care for individuals with behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia in long-term aged care facilities should extend beyond staff education to heed nurses' concerns about organizational barriers to interpersonal care.

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