Dr. Kathy McGilton

Researcher Awarded Grant to Aid LTC Residents with Alzheimer’s

12 September 2012

Bloomberg assistant professor Dr. Kathy McGilton is the recipient of a two-year quality of life grant from the Alzheimer Society Research Program (ASRP) to support her study titled, “An intervention to improve interactions between providers and residents with dementia.”

“As the population ages, effectively managing diseases that accompany advanced aging becomes more pressing,” said McGilton. “This funding will help us improve the lives of those living in home care facilities, ensuring they receive better care and quality of life.”

By 2031, more than half-a-million Canadians will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease. Most people with severe Alzheimer’s live in a long-term care (LTC) home, sometimes making sure they receive specialized care problematic. Moreover, caring for these residents can be challenging as up to 90 per cent of them have behavioural problems as well. This eventually leads to staff turnover, which has a negative effect on the quality of care delivered. One of major problems is nurses have trouble communicating with and understanding the residents; similarly, residents are unable to express their needs clearly to the staff. Most providers are unregulated, such as personal support workers or health care aides, and often do not receive training on how to speak to residents with Alzheimer’s disease. The aim of this study is to provide workers with a Resident Centered Communication Intervention (RCCI).

This research aims to develop and evaluate the implementation of a RCCI developed to educate, train, and support providers in communicating effectively with residents with dementia in LTC facilities. The intervention consists of three parts: 1) the development of an individualized communication care plan for each resident; 2) a one-day workshop for care workers; and 3) a care worker support system to provide help when they use the communication plans in practice. Recent pilot work conducted by McGilton’s team suggests that when providers are taught about communication impairments and learn how to develop individualized care plans, resident quality of life is enhanced.

The ASRP has supported hundreds of scientists who have made tremendous contributions to the growth of Alzheimer’s knowledge worldwide. “This program is vital to the training of new researchers who are dedicated to finding the causes and treatments of Alzheimer’s disease,” says Dr. Serge Gauthier, a leading expert in dementia research at McGill University, Montreal, who is also a Board Member of the Alzheimer Society of Canada and Chair of its Research Policy Committee.

Dementia is a term that describes a general group of brain disorders. Symptoms include the loss of memory, impaired judgment, and changes in behaviour and personality. Dementia is progressive, degenerative and eventually terminal. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia accounting for almost two thirds of dementias in Canada today. The Alzheimer Society is the leading nationwide health charity for people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The Society offers help through its programs and services for people living with dementia, and hope for the future by funding research to find the cause and cure.