Empowering Staff to Improve Care for Dementia Residents

Center Post

Dr. Perry Edelman and his colleagues at the Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging have been working to assess the quality of life of people with dementia and developed a measure, called “” or OQOLD, which enables professional caregivers to assess the quality of life of persons with dementia based on their observations during a variety of activities.

This is the 16th in a series of case studies from the Preparing for the Future report.

You can check out the full MorseLife case study or continue reading the summary below.

The Organization
Mather LifeWays operates three continuing care retirement communities in Illinois and Arizona. In addition, its Community Initiatives programs allow Mather LifeWays to act as a point of contact for older adults who seek access to community resources. 

Mather Institute on Aging plays a leading role in enhancing the lives of older adults through numerous collaborative and applied research and education projects targeting healthy aging, workforce development, caregiver support and senior living trends.

The Mather LifeWays Institute on Aging developed a measure, called “Observing Quality of Life in Dementia” or OQOLD, which enables professional caregivers in a variety of settings to assess the quality of life of persons with dementia based on their observations of those individuals during a variety of activities. 

Quality-of-life scores, which range from a low of -3 to a high of +3, are based on the person’s level of engagement and/or emotional reaction during the activity.

Through a partnership with Benten Technologies, and thanks to a grant from the National Institute on Aging, Mather LifeWays staff members currently record their OQOLD scores on an iPod Touch. Data are wirelessly transferred from the iPod Touch to a website where the scores are organized into a variety of reports that staff can download and use to maximize both the quality of care provided and the quality of life of participants with dementia.

Using the OQOLD measure, staff members in various settings have been able to identify the impact that specific activities have on individuals with dementia. This enables staff to match individuals with activities that yield high quality-oflife scores for them, test out the effectiveness of new activities, and match participants with new activities as their dementia symptoms change over time. 

The technology-enabled OQOLD measure also helps organizations to keep families better informed about the engagement level of their relatives and to better match the skills of staff members to the requirements of specific activities.

Business Case
Initial discussions with Benten Technologies have focused on the feasibility of offering a mOQOLD service that would be available on mobile devices like the iPod, iPhone or Android smartphone. 

After purchasing a mOQOLD subscription, a mobile device owner would receive access to the OQOLD assessment method developed by Mather LifeWays, as well as future software modules that Benten might add to its mOQOLD platform. Mather and Benten will be discussing how they might share revenues from the sale of the mOQOLD subscription service.

You can also view all 18 case studies from the Preparing for the Future report.