Social participation of people with cognitive problems and their caregivers: a feasibility evaluation of the Social Fitness Programme

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Abstract

Objective

We developed a tailor-made intervention aimed at improving social participation of people with cognitive problems and their caregivers. This programme consists of an integration of healthcare and welfare interventions: occupational therapy, physiotherapy and guidance by a welfare professional. This article describes the feasibility evaluation of this Social Fitness Programme.

Methods

Feasibility in terms of acceptability, demand, implementation, practicability and limited efficacy was evaluated based on experiences from professionals (programme deliverers), people with cognitive problems and their caregivers (programme recipients). We used qualitative research methods (focus group discussions, interviews, collection of treatment records) and applied thematic analyses.

Results

The intervention was feasible according to stakeholders, and limited efficacy showed promising results. However, we found feasibility barriers. First, an acceptability barrier: discussing declined social participation was difficult, hindering recruitment. Second, a demand barrier: some people with cognitive problems lacked motivation to improve declined social participation, sometimes in contrast to their caregivers' wishes. Third, implementation and practicability barriers: shared decision-making, focusing the intervention and interdisciplinary collaboration between healthcare and welfare professionals were suboptimal during implementation.

Discussion

Although this intervention builds upon scientific evidence, expert opinions and stakeholder needs, implementation was challenging. Healthcare and welfare professionals need to overcome obstacles in their collaboration and focus on integrated intervention delivery. Also, they need to find ways to (empower caregivers to) motivate people with cognitive problems to participate socially. After modifying the intervention and additional training of professionals, a consecutive pilot study to assess feasibility of the research design and outcome measures is justified. Copyright © 2017 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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