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‘Rare positive result' in trial of new support intervention for people with dementia and their family carers

Research led by Claudia Cooper, Professor of Psychological Medicine and lead of the Centre for Psychiatry and Mental Health in the Wolfson Institute of Public Health, shows that NIDUS-Family therapy helps people with dementia and their family carers attain their personal goals.    

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The NIDUS-family package of care and support focuses on practical changes people can make, with sessions designed around the specific priorities of the person with dementia. It can be delivered to the person with dementia and family carer together, or the family carer alone, by phone, video-call or in person. 

Participants were supported to set their own goals, which might be enabling the person with dementia to carry out more activities, experience better mood, sleep, appetite, relationships or social engagement, or to improve carer support and wellbeing. Those receiving the new support package met with a therapist 6 to 8 times in six months, then received 2 to 4 further support phone calls over the next 6 months. The support provided was tailored to the goals they set.    

The trial results, published today in Lancet Healthy Longevity and funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, show that family carers and the people they supported with dementia who received the NIDUS-family intervention were significantly more likely to achieve the goals they set than those who received their usual care over a year. This was true whether the intervention was delivered by video-call, phone or in-person. The intervention was delivered by non-clinical facilitators, who were provided with supervision and training.

The new therapy has the potential to be rolled out to support consistent, evidence-based personalised dementia care across the NHS. The findings coincide with a call from the All-Party Parliamentary Group(APPG) inquiry on dementia for a levelling up of diagnosis rates and the care people receive after a diagnosis, recommending that high-quality post-diagnostic support services for dementia must be available more equitably across England.   

Lead author, Professor Claudia Cooper said: “Because NIDUS-family can be delivered by people without clinical training, it has the potential to enable many more people to access good quality post-diagnostic support. NIDUS-Family is the first readily scalable intervention for people with dementia that is proven to improve attainment on personalised goals, and can be remotely delivered, and it should be implemented in health and care services.”  

A family carer who took part in NIDUS described how it helped the family: “There was lots of little things that we would never have thought about but I think the main thing was the understanding of how my mum’s mood affected her and how she was and her behaviour. So for us to get to the bottom of that and understand that a bit more, we could deal with the whole situation in a different way.”  

 Find out more about this research on the website of the Wolfson Institute of Population Health.


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