Study protocol : a Montessori approach to dementia-related, non-residential respite services in Australia

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Hanna, A, Donnelly, J & Aggar, C 2018, 'Study protocol : a Montessori approach to dementia-related, non-residential respite services in Australia', Archives of Gerontology and Geriatrics, vol. 77, pp. 24-30.

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Given the social burden and significant cost of dementia care in Australia, finding evidence-based approaches that improve outcomes, maintain independence, and reduce the impact on patients and families is essential. Finding effective ways to train and assist the healthcare staff who support these individuals is also critical, as they are considered to be at risk of workplace stress, burnout, and other psychological disturbances which negatively affects standards of care. The current paper describes a protocol for evaluating the effects of a Montessori-based approach to dementia care, in non-residential respite centres. An 18 month prospective observational, cohort controlled design is suggested that will compare participants from a community respite service that has undergone a Montessori-based workplace culture change and those from a service that provides a person-centred 'care as usual' approach. To achieve this, the protocol includes the assessment of participants across multiple variables on a monthly basis including the cognitive, behavioural, and emotional functioning of clients with dementia, levels of caregiver burden experienced by informal carers, and burnout, compassion satisfaction and workplace engagement among respite staff. The protocol also employs a qualitative evaluation of program fidelity. This approach will provide further insight into the potential benefits of early intervention with Montessori approaches for persons living with dementia in the community, their caregivers, and the staff and volunteers who assist them.

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