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Advanced dementia: an integrated homecare programme


Objectives We established an integrated palliative homecare programme for advanced dementia. This study explores patients’ symptoms and quality-of-life and their association with enteral feeding, evaluates the impact of the programme on these parameters and examines familial caregiver burden.

Methods This is a prospective cohort study. Patients at Functional Assessment Stage 7, with an albumin level <35 g/L, pneumonia or enteral feeding were recruited. At baseline and regular intervals, the multidisciplinary homecare team used the Pain Assessment in Advanced Dementia, Mini Nutritional Assessment and Neuropsychiatric Inventory Questionnaire (NPI-Q) to identify patients’ symptoms, and the Quality of Life in Late-Stage Dementia (QUALID) tool to assess quality-of-life as primary outcomes, stratified by feeding status. The Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI) investigated caregiver burden, stratified by living arrangement and availability of stay-in help. Mann-Whitney U and χ2 tests compared continuous and categorical variables respectively between groups while Wilcoxon signed-rank test compared assessment scores at baseline and on review.

Results At baseline, 49.2% of the 254 patients had pain, 92.5% were malnourished and 85.0% experienced neuropsychiatric challenges. Patients on enteral feeding had lower NPI-Q score (median=3; IQR 1–6) than orally fed patients ((median=4; IQR 2–7), p=0.004) and higher QUALID score (median=25; IQR 21–30 vs median=21; IQR 17–25 for orally fed patients), p<0.0001, indicating a better quality-of-life for orally fed patients. Both symptoms and quality-of-life improved significantly for the 53 patients reviewed at the fifth month. Median ZBI score for caregivers was 26 (IQR 15–36). Having stay-in help reduced it from 39.5 (IQR 25–49) to 25 (IQR 15–35), p=0.001.

Conclusion An integrated multidisciplinary palliative homecare team with geriatric training that is accessible all-hours addressed the needs of home-dwelling patients with advanced dementia, improved their quality-of-life and supported families to care for them at home.

  • advanced dementia
  • palliative homecare
  • quality-of-life
  • symptoms
  • caregiver burden

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