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New programme introduced to help older people

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​Elderly people in some of the local Aged Residential Care facilities are benefitting from a new programme introduced by MidCentral District Health Board.

The new programme seeks to improve the cognitive and social functioning of older people with mild to moderate dementia.

The benefits of this are already being noticed by staff in the aged residential centres. Feedback from one aged care worker showed a participant in their discussion group was now expressing herself more in social settings.

Based on Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST), the new programme involves activities that stimulate brain activity. This assists a person with dementia to maintain their cognitive functioning for as long as possible, while the changes are subtle they can make a significant difference to a person’s well-being. The staff involved learn to identify those who may be withdrawing from social situations due to lack of confidence and involve them in small group sessions which stimulate verbal and social interactions.

MDHB Health of Older People Clinical Advisor, Liz Elliott said: “We teach staff at aged residential care (ARC) facilities the principles of CST to support residents who are losing confidence when socialising. Our staff then involve residents in activities that help them regain their confidence. Once staff understand the CST principles they can start making a difference in residents’ well-being.”

Health of Older Persons Portfolio Manager, Jo Smith said: “It’s fantastic seeing the benefits of this programme already. This will make a significant difference in the lives of residents and their families. Seeing results is really encouraging and shows that CST is making a positive difference in the health and well-being of older people in our community.”

CST is a structured group treatment, provided through a range of activities and discussions in group sessions. It has been adapted from a programme developed in the UK and has been implemented into existing activity programmes within ARC facilities and community day centres in MidCentral district. A series of workshops was held for ARC staff, on the principles of CST and the structure of the programme.

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