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Assistance dogs for elderly with middle and late stage dementia : a study on the implementation of assistance dogs in the care of elderly with middle and late stage dementia who live in healthcare facilities

Zon, E. van (2017) Assistance dogs for elderly with middle and late stage dementia : a study on the implementation of assistance dogs in the care of elderly with middle and late stage dementia who live in healthcare facilities.

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Abstract:Background: The Dutch population is rapidly aging and the number of elderly with dementia increases fast. There is no cure for dementia and therefore it is important to maintain a good Quality of Life for the patients for as long as possible. Research has shown, that patients with dementia benefit from social contact, social activities and physical activities. A good way to achieve these benefits is by interaction with animals, in specific dogs. Although several types of assistance dogs exist and have shown themselves to be effective, little research is done into the use of assistance dogs in the care of elderly with middle and late stage dementia, who live in healthcare facilities. Goal: This study focussed on the facilitating or impeding factors in the implementation of assistance dogs in the care of elderly with middle and late stage dementia who live in healthcare facilities. Methods:For this implementation study, semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirteen relevant stakeholders. These stakeholders were as followed: one project manager, one representative of Hulphond Nederland, three family members, one music therapist, two activity leaders, two care givers, one team leader care and two managers of care homes. The Consolidated Framework for Implementation Research was used to structure the interviews and results. The interviews were transcripted, coded, categorized and subcategorized independently by two encoders. Afterwords, results of both arrangements of results were compaired and discussed until consensus was reached. Results: Stakeholders were generally positive about the implementation of an assistance dog in the care of elderly with middle and late stage dementia who live in healthcare facilities. They believed an assistance dog for the target group could have several advantages such as a form of intimacy, empathy, an improvement in interaction and Quality of Life. Impeding factors such as patients with medical conditions who could suffer from the presence of a dog, the shedding of hair and the dog smell were mentioned but stakeholders also came up with a possible solution. The Labradoodle or Poodle would be suited breeds because of the hypoallergenic fur that does not cause allergic reactions and does not shed. Stakeholders envisioned the use of an assistance dog as an activity that could take place once a month, supervised by an external supervisor who knows the dog. The task of the dog can vary: from passive activities like cuddling and patients talking to the dog, to play fetch or going for a walk. Most stakeholders preferred a professionally trained dog due to safety risks. Organizations such as healthcare facilities and an organization that trains assistance dogs would be needed to facilitate the implementation. Private initiatives who visit with their pets on voluntary basis could be a possible threat which could impede implementation. Conclusion: Stakeholders were overall positive about the implementation of an assistance dog in the care of elderly with middle and late stage dementia who live in healthcare facilities. Because of the positive results, a pilot study is recommended to test the implementation and effectiveness in practice.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/73857
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