CAST Case Study: Using Technology to Transform Dementia Care

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A new CAST case study explores how CAST Supporter It’s Never 2 Late (iN2L) helped CAST Patron Westminster-Canterbury on Chesapeake Bay (WCCBay)use technology to transform dementia care.

The case study describes a 24-week research study that tested whether using iN2L computer technology could help increase socialization and improve mental health among residents of WCCBay’s nursing home and memory support settings. 

Researchers found that 40% of WCCBay residents who used the iN2L technology had a clinically significant reduction in total doses of antipsychotic medications when engaged with the computer, according to the case study. 

Partners in the Study

WCCBay engaged 4 partners in what has been dubbed “The Birdsong Initiative.” 

  • WCCBay Foundation Board Member Sue Birdsong and her husband, George, donated $228,000 to fund the project.
  • iN2L provided the touch-screen computer technology that residents in the study used for recreation and social connection.
  • The Therapeutic Recreation Department at Virginia Wesleyan College (VWC) sent student interns to the WCCBay campus to help residents use the iN2L computers.
  • Researchers from Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) conducted the study.

How the Study Worked 

Sixty-two WCCBay residents were selected to participate in the study, based on their diagnosis of dementia or dementia-related conditions. The study participants were divided into 2 groups (high-cognition and low-cognition) using the Montreal Cognitive Assessment scores, and then were randomized into either a test or control group. 

iN2L placed one of its touch-screen computers in the room of each test group member. Each all-in-one computer system was equipped with speakers and featured a customized home screen that allowed participants to easily manipulate the activity content. 

Content for the computers was standardized and included 10 core software applications. Additional content was customized to the participant’s individual interests. VWC interns introduced test group participants to the computers, and engaged them in using the 10 core applications for 5 hours per week during the study period.

Control group participants also received individualized therapeutic recreation in a group setting. However, they did not have the touch-screen computer system available in their rooms, and did not use the computer for one-on-one activities.

Researchers assessed all study participants at the beginning, middle, and end of the study to gauge the effects of their computer use. In addition, certified nursing assistants who work directly with the participants were asked to complete a Perceived Stress Scale before, at the beginning, and at the end of the study’s two, 12-week sessions.

Outcomes

Researchers documented the following outcomes among participants in the test group:

  • 40% of participants in the test group had a clinically significant reduction in total doses of antipsychotic medications when engaged with the computer.  
  • Behavioral episodes became less frequent for 54% of participants and ceased entirely for 30% of participants. Episodes became less intense for 75% of participants. 
  • Depression decreased by 41% for the test group.  
  • Cognitive/brain power scores rose for nearly 24% of test group members. 
  • Stress indicators for staff caregivers dropped by 47%. 

For More Information 

See the full case study for challenges, lessons learned, and advice to others.

 

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