This project is examining the effect of using volunteers to deliver Namaste Care to people with advanced dementia. Namaste Care is used internationally, mainly in care homes, but this is the first service delivering it in people’s own homes.
Namaste care was developed in the US by Joyce Simard. It is not a medical intervention, it is about honouring people with advanced dementia who can no longer tell us who they are or who they were. Our volunteers offer them meaningful activities such as gentle hand massage appealing foods and beverages, playing favourite music.
Volunteers are trained to offer caregivers a respite from their 24/7 responsibilities. The original intention was that volunteers should teach caregivers how to use the Namaste approach themselves. This has resulted in mixed success, some caregivers have embraced the concept, but many others are too exhausted and unable to do so.
Because of the difficulty of differentiating between caregiver’s needs and the needs of the persons with dementia, it was decided to evaluate the service by measuring the satisfaction of caregivers. The 22 item version of the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI) will be used to measure carer burden. The ZBI has been chosen as it is the instrument most consistently and internationally used in dementia caregiving research. In addition the Carers Assessment of Satisfaction Index (CASI) will be used as it allows caregivers to relate to more upbeat statements not present in ZBI.
In the year that the service has been running it has attracted interest from other hospices. It is intended that the project will help to influence the direction of hospice care for people with advanced dementia as recommended by the Commission into the Future of Hospice Care and ‘Hospice enabled dementia care – the first steps’.
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