A novel therapy called NIDUS-Family has shown promising outcomes in helping individuals with dementia and their family caregivers achieve their personal goals, according to research led by Professor Claudia Cooper at Queen Mary University of London. The therapy focuses on practical changes that can be made, with counseling sessions tailored to the specific priorities of the person with dementia. It can be conducted in person, over the phone, or via video call, either with the person with dementia and their caregiver together or solely with the caregiver.
The NIDUS-family trial involved 302 pairs of family caregivers and people with dementia, who were supported in setting their own goals. These objectives included improving the person’s ability to engage in activities, enhancing mood, sleep, appetite, relationships, social engagement, and caregiver support and well-being.
Participants who received the NIDUS-family intervention met with a therapist six to eight times over a period of six months, followed by two to four support phone calls over the next six months. The support provided was tailored to the goals set by the individuals.
The trial results revealed that participants who received the new support package were significantly more likely to achieve their goals compared to those who received usual care over the course of a year. This positive outcome was observed regardless of whether the intervention was conducted via video call, phone, or in-person.
The therapy was administered by non-clinical facilitators who received appropriate training and supervision. After one year, only 9.3% of the intervention group compared to 13.3% of the control group had moved to a care home or had passed away. The researchers plan to continue following up with trial participants for an additional year to ascertain whether the new support intervention helps individuals with dementia remain in their own homes for longer.
The NIDUS-Family therapy has the potential to be widely implemented across the National Health Service (NHS) to enable consistent, evidence-based personalized dementia care. This development aligns with the recommendations made by the All-Party Parliamentary Group inquiry on dementia, which advocates for improved diagnosis rates and post-diagnostic support services for dementia patients throughout England.
Dr. Richard Oakley, the Associate Director of Research and Innovation at the Alzheimer’s Society, expressed enthusiasm for the results, stating that personalized post-diagnostic support is often lacking for individuals with dementia, leaving them feeling isolated and vulnerable. Oakley highlighted the significance of the NIDUS-Family therapy as the first remotely deliverable and non-clinical post-diagnostic support program, offering vital assistance to caregivers nationwide.
The researchers have secured additional funding to further expand and enhance the NIDUS-Family program. This will contribute to providing universal care and support, addressing the critical needs of individuals living with dementia.
Professor Claudia Cooper, the lead author of the study, stressed the potential of NIDUS-Family to democratize access to high-quality post-diagnostic support, as it can be delivered by non-clinical professionals. She emphasized the scalability of the intervention, as it is proven to improve personalized goal attainment and can be administered remotely, calling for its implementation in healthcare services.