Clive Ballard, MD: The State of Nursing Home Care in Dementia


The professor of age-related diseases and Dean of the University of Exeter Medical School spoke about the need for proper training of nursing home staff in order to improve quality of life in patients with dementia.

"We've been looking in some detail over a period of time, about 20 years, of nursing home care, and I think the disappointing thing is that very little has actually changed."

At the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, California, Clive Ballard, MD, professor of age-related diseases and Dean of the University of Exeter Medical School spoke with NeurologyLive in an interview to discuss the state of nursing home care in dementia.

Ballard explained that despite a plethora of policy initiatives over the last 20 years, nothing has changed, and recommends proper staff training in order to improve patients’ quality of life, reduce their psychiatric symptoms, use of drugs, and potentially reduce mortality by increasing positive engagement.

One of the challenges Ballard mentions is how to actually monitor the quality of care in nursing homes. In a detailed evaluation of 24 care homes, Ballard and colleagues reported that 22 of the homes, which were rated as adequate or good, were in need of radical improvement. This is in part because the evaluation of nursing homes focuses on whether an individual’s physical health needs are being met, and while this is important, it doesn’t necessarily capture the real experience the person with dementia living in a care home endures. Ballard concludes that this process of evaluation needs to reflect the social and emotional needs as well as the patients' physical care needs.

For more coverage of AAIC 2019, click here.

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