Dementia Hypothesis

Dementia Hypothesis



StaceyA. Passalacqua, Rollins College, and Jake Harwood, University ofArizona wrote the article “VIPSCommunication Skills Training for Paraprofessional DementiaCaregivers: An Intervention to Increase Person-Centred DementiaCare.”The study aimed at examining the communication intervention for thedementias’ caregivers (Passalacquaand Harwood, 2012).The study focused on four elements of person-centred dementia care(VIPS). They are:

V-Valuing people

I-Individualised care

P-Personal perspectives

S-Social environment

Additionally,the study aimed at testing the viability of the four elements in acare facility (Passalacquaet. al., 2012).Dementia is a word that refers to diseases and conditions of memorydecline and other thinking skills (Alzheimer`sAssociation, 2014).The disease results from damaged nerve cells (neurons) in the brain.Accordingly, the nerve fails to function effectively, and they mayeventually die causing memory disability to think clearly.


Passalacquaand Harwood carried out the study in a care facility that specialisedwith memory issues. Most of the residents in the facility sufferedfrom Alzheimer disease and others from dementias. Only fiftycaregivers were eligible to participate in this study. However, onlytwenty-six caregivers fully participated in the study by completingpre-test and post-test measures and attending at least two workshops.Among them, only eighteen attend all the four workshops (Passalacquaet. al., 2012). Since workshop attendance was not mandatory, therewas highly unlikeness of one-hundred percent participation. Theparticipants completed questionnaires during two monthly staffmeetings. The meetings took place four weeks prior and six weeksafter the intervention respectively.

Amongthe sample selected, 89% were female while 11% were men. Among thefemale, 46% were between eighteen and thirty years, 27% were betweenthirty-one and forty-nine years, and the rest were fifty years andabove. However, the sample did not capture the ethnic data, but thecare caregivers at the facility approximated that 35% were Hispanic,35% were East or South Asian, 15% were Black, and 15% were White.


Thestudy used pre-test and post-test design to determine the effect ofthe intervention on communication strategy, as well as othervariables that are associated with care giving quality. All measureswere administered four weeks prior and six weeks after intervention(T1: pre-intervention and T2: post-intervention). The interventiontook a period of four weeks and with a weekly one-hour workshop. Eachworkshop was devoted to one of Brooker’s elements of person-centreddementia care (Passalacqua et. al., 2012). In addition, each sessionfeatured communication skills training based on effectivecommunication skills that corresponded to the day element. Theworkshop included guided visualization exercises, role-playing,videotaped vignettes, discussion group, group and dyadic activities,and power point slides. Each session consisted of three sub-sessionsto encourage attendance. Two university members facilitated eachsession. Session one focused on valuing people (V), session twofocused on individualised care (I), session three focused on personalperspectives (P), and session four focused on social environment (S).


Thestudy analysed the results into two sections. The first sectioninvolves exploratory analyses of intervention while the secondinvolved participant’s evaluations of workshops. Comparing the twodata, pre- and post-intervention, there was clear indication ofsignificance changes in hope, empathy, and depersonalisation.Caregivers reported more hope and empathy for Alzheimer patients andless depersonalisation of residents. This was an encouraging findingsince honouring dementia’s people is a fundamental principle ofperson-centred dementia care. According to Passalacqua et. al.,(2012), depersonalisation corresponds to suboptimal patient carehence, reducing it corresponds to sub-optimal patient care reductionand care practises improvement.

Thestudy also found out that depersonalisation is a burnout elementhence, depersonalisation reduction will correspondingly reduceburnout among caregivers. Passalacqua et. al., (2012) states this isbeneficial to both the care-recipient and caregiver. Burned outcaregivers experience increased irritability, dissatisfaction, lowself-worth, unhappiness, and are sometimes quit their jobs. On theother hand, reduction in burnout increases care-recipient andcaregiver well-being.

Afterthe study, Passalacqua and Harwood found that communicationintervention was highly significance. The post-intervention foundthat dementia caregivers used more concrete communication strategiesthat were effective for people with dementia (Passalacqua et. al.,2012). Caregivers reported that after the intervention, theysignificantly spend more time on leisure activities. Therefore, theintervention was successful because the goal of the intervention wasto focus more on individualised care and create a positive socialenvironment. In other words, the caregivers focused more onresident’s personalities and less on routine chores.

Unfortunately,the study faced some limitations. For instance, the sample size wasrelatively small. According to Passalacqua et. al., (2012), largesample yields numerous significant results. Secondly, caregivers’illiteracy affected the study. Some caregivers did not accuratelyfill in the questionnaires used data. Further, the self-report datais not one-hundred percent reliable. This calls for third-partyobservation, which this study did not have. Nevertheless, the studywas successful, and the authors concluded by stating communicationskill intervention as a significant tool to improve dementia carequality based on the above preliminary evidence.


Alzheimer`sAssociation. (2014). 2014 Alzheimer`s disease facts and figures.Alzheimer’s &amp Dementia,&nbsp10(2),e47-e92.

Passalacqua,S. A., &amp Harwood, J. (2012). VIPS communication skills trainingfor paraprofessional dementia caregivers: an intervention to increaseperson-centred dementia care.&nbspClinicalGerontologist,&nbsp35(5),425-445.