Master thesis suggestion on Dementia Friendly Living Models

Target students

Students attending master programmes at the Faculty for Health and Sport Sciences, School of Business and Law, and Faculty for Social Sciences.

Background of the porject

Currently, about 101,000 Norwegians live with dementia, with a large percentage (85 -90%) living the last years of their life in a nursing home (NH)(avg=2,1). The expanding number of people with dementia (PWD) and increasing costs of care will place growing pressure on Norway´s welfare system to strengthen its public health response to living with the disease. Studies show that poorly adapted environments can cause more confusion, less life-coping, increased frustration and anxiety, which may lead to agitation and aggression. Low quality of life (QoL) among PWD in NHs is especially associated with aggressive behavior, frustration and depression, apathy and sadness. Interventions which decrease behavioral symptoms of dementia, have the potential to result in both better QoL for PWD and lower costs for health systems. With no cure for dementia, societies are looking for innovative, cost-effective ways to provide quality care for PWD in the least restrictive setting possible.

One of the first examples of a dementia friendly living model (DFLM), the De Hogeweyk project in the Netherlands, opened in 2009 and houses 152 PWD in 23 small care homes. Their model of care is built on seven pillars (favorable surroundings, lifestyle, health, life´s pleasures/meaning, formal/informal networks, organization, and social inclusion/emancipation) and four domains (individual, home, living environment, and organization/process). PWD at De Hogeweyk are assessed and placed into small care homes based on their lifestyle, which influences the décor, food, activities, and daily life. Although some literature on De Hogeweyk exist; in-depth descriptions are lacking; outcomes have not been rigorously researched; cost analyses have not been conducted; and the acceptability of the model for residents, family carers, or the workforce has not been well established.

Despite the lack of evidence supporting outcomes or detailing costs, efforts to translate the De Hogeweyk model have begun in the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. In Norway; Bærum, Kristiansand, and Oslo municipalities have designed and built their own DFLMs, based in part on the De Hogeweyk model, and adapted to the Norwegian context. Bærum´s Carpe Diem opened in September 2020, with 158 residents in 17 small care homes. Kristiansand´s Strømmehaven opened in October 2020, with 42 residents in 6 small care homes. Oslo´s Dronning Ingrid´s Hage will open in late 2022, with 120 residents in 19 small care homes. While similar in their overall approach, these DFLMs vary slightly in their MOCs, their physical design, and how they utilize welfare technology

Assistant Professor at UiA and Research leader of the Center for Care Research, south, Brooke Hollister, is leading a group of researchers and municipalities in a proposal to the Norwegian Research Council in February 2022. The proposed 4-year project, Building DEMentia friendly Living models: Assessing outcomes and identifying Best practices in Norway (DEMLAB Norway), if funded, will begin in 2022. Funding will be announced in June 2022. Regardless of funding, kommune partners are interested in hosting Masters´ projects to address the research questions below.

Possible Research Questions

  1. What are the health economic effects of DFLMs
  2. How are DFLM care models implemented?
  3. How do municipalities decide which residents should be admitted to DFLM vs. traditional nursing home?
  4. How do resident, family carers, staff, and/or volunteers experience DFLMs
  5. How do care staff perceive their new role within DFLMs?
  6. How do DFLMs impact resident, family carer, staff, and volunteer outcomes (eg. satisfaction, agitation, hospitalizations, errors)?
  7. How does the design of the physical environment in DFLMs and NHs inhibit or promote QoL, daily life, and health of residents, family carers, staff and volunteers?
  8. How is welfare technology in DFLMs experienced by residents, family carers, staff, and volunteers?

Research Method

Quantitative and/or Qualitative projects are possible. Data can be collected through surveys, interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and/or use of existing secondary data.