Effectiveness of Recovery-Focused Mental Health Care of Older People With Memory Problems
Introduction Dementia is a syndrome due to disease of the brain, usually of a chronic nature, in which there is disturbance of multiple higher cortical functions including Memory, Comprehension, Thinking, Judgment, Orientation, language and communication skills and abstract thinking. It is one of the most challenging disorders both in terms of prevalence and economic burden. There are currently approximately 800,000 people with dementia in UK and national cost is 17 billion per year. It is estimated that in next thirty years, number of people with dementia will increase to 1.4 million and the national cost will be over 50 billion. The exceptional advances in modern medicine in terms of prolonging life expectancy do not necessarily improve the care delivered to people with dementia. Dementia is a progressive condition where clinical recovery is not possible despite the discovery of cognition enhancing drugs. This belief leads to low expectations that tend to erode hope and foster indignity. Advances in treatment of Alzheimer’s disease have, however, stimulated new thinking and methods of service delivery. At certain stage of their illness, if not from the very beginning, personal, and social recovery becomes more meaningful for service users than their clinical recovery. Objective To investigate whether recovery-orientated psychiatric assessment and therapeutic intervention enhances the wellbeing of people with memory problems and their family carers. Method This study was a preliminary randomised control study. Patients were randomly allocated to recovery focus group or treatment as usual group acting as the control. Participants in the recovery focus group received a recovery-focused pre-diagnostic wellbeing assessment and counselling, diagnostic consultation with written feedback and post-diagnostic support over a period of six months. Participants in both groups were assessed using the WHO Wellbeing Index (WHO-5) as the primary outcome measure. The Mini Mental State Examination, Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia, EuroQol-5D and Zarit Burden Interview were used as secondary outcome measures. Written records of the narrative accounts of participants in the recovery focus group were also obtained. Results 48 patients with early dementia were recruited and agreed to take part in the study. Out of these, 34 patients completed the study, of which 17 patients were in the recovery focus group and 17 patients were in the treatment as usual group (control).There was a significant difference between the groups in terms of greater improvement in wellbeing as rated by the WHO – 5 Wellbeing Index in the recovery focus group compared to the control group. The secondary outcome measures in the areas of cognition, quality of life and caregiver burden showed no differences between the groups. However, case histories from the recovery focus group identified the main areas of improvement in improved mood, increased social interaction, reduction in carer strain and / or burden and improved self-worth and / or confidence. Conclusions This study shows that recovery focused care can enhance the wellbeing of people with mild to moderate dementia. The additional benefits perceived by the patients and their relatives /carers include improvement in mood symptoms, social interaction and confidence as well as reduction in carer burden and strain.