3 tips for measurable goals in dementia programming

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3 tips for measurable goals in dementia programming

Posted on June 25, 2014

Engaging people with dementia in meaningful person centered activities is the most effective way to manage behaviors, increase satisfaction and reduce the use of anti-psychotic drugs. Programming for dementia can be challenging on many levels. One of them is the absence of measurable goals. Another is the difficulty gathering feedback from the residents and the difficulty of evaluating the effectiveness of a program.

Measuring outcomes of activities whether they are positive or negative is important to evaluate the quality of care provided as it can help optimize what is offered to better answer the need of each individual.  Here are three tips to implement measurable goals in dementia programming:

1. Start with the need of the resident: When creating a program, make sure that it addresses the deep need of the person: is the resident in need of socialization, going outdoors or physical exercises? The past history and cognitive level of the resident are essential to establish this. Once the need is identified, a measurable goal can be decided upon. These goals can simply be measuring participation, alertness, and emotion. For example, if the person is in need of social interaction, this could be: “talk to three people per day during activities, or: engages in conversation for more than 2 minutes twice a day “. Once that goal is set, a program can be built or chosen.

2. Implement measurement processes. Once goals have been identified and programming built around them, the programming staff needs to be trained and to know what to look for, how to assess the residents and how to report the results. One should focus on observational tools to measure engagement and affect during individual and group activities for persons with dementia. This can be done with daily logs and should be part of the care plan or individual service plan.

3. Evaluate the benefits beyond programming. When implementing new engagement initiatives, it is important to track and measure the implications beyond programming: Engagement is known to lower levels of agitation, levels of depression, number of falls and increase socialization. If one can link new initiatives to these key operational outcomes, this can greatly support marketing efforts of the community, help communicate progress with family members and elevate the status of programming with the administration.