Staff views on how to improve mealtimes for elderly people with dementia living at home

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Abstract

Dementia commonly leads to difficulties in performing daily activities, which can also often affect the ability to prepare and eat meals. As a result, formal support to maintain good nutritional intake might be needed, but there is a lack of knowledge concerning how to support older persons with dementia living at home. The aim of this study was to explore and describe staff views on how to improve mealtimes for persons with dementia who are still living at home. A qualitative descriptive study was performed and data were collected during 2011–2012 through four focus group interviews with staff working in the homes of persons with dementia. Data were analyzed using inductive content analysis. The participants described several ways to improve mealtimes for persons with dementia and advocated adjustments facilitating the preservation of the persons’ independence. Finding suitable actions calls for knowledge about the person and his/her individual situation. Proposed actions were enabling meals at home, taking over, and moving meals outside of the home. In addition, it was found that, the types of meals served to these persons should be as familiar to the individual as possible. The results of this study indicate the importance of using a person-centered approach and meeting the individual needs when supporting people with dementia in regards to their meals when living at home. Individualized care in the home may be expensive, however, it is fair to say that people who become malnourished and admitted to hospitals is even more costly. Furthermore, sharing and reflecting experiences and knowledge can assist staff to identify ways to manage complex situations. Therefore, the use of refection should be a part of staff members’ everyday work.

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