Article Abstract

Implementing the Namaste Care Program for residents with advanced dementia: exploring the perceptions of families and staff in UK care homes

Authors: Min Stacpoole, Jo Hockley, Amanda Thompsell, Joyce Simard, Ladislav Volicer


Background: Increasing numbers of older people with advanced dementia are cared for in care homes. No cure is available, so research focused on improving quality of life and quality of care for people with dementia is needed to support them to live and die well. The Namaste Care programme is a multi-dimensional care program with sensory, psycho-social and spiritual components intended to enhance quality of life and quality of care for people with advanced dementia. The aim of the study was to establish whether the Namaste Care program can be implemented in UK care homes; and what effect Namaste Care has on the quality of life of residents with advanced dementia, their families and staff. This article explores the qualitative findings of the study, reporting the effect of the programme on the families of people with advanced dementia and care home staff, and presenting their perceptions of change in care.
Methods: An organisational action research methodology was used. Focus groups and interviews were undertaken pre/post implementation of the Namaste Care program. The researcher kept a reflective diary recording data on the process of change. A comments book was available to staff and relatives in each care home. Data was analysed thematically within each care home and then across all care homes.
Results: Six care homes were recruited in south London: one withdrew before the study was underway. Of the five remaining care homes, four achieved a full Namaste Care program. One care home did not achieve the full program during the study, and another discontinued Namaste Care when the study ended. Every home experienced management disruption during the study. Namaste Care challenged normal routinised care for older people with advanced dementia. The characteristics of care uncovered before Namaste was implemented were: chaos and confusion, rushing around, lack of trust, and rewarding care. After the programme was implemented these perceptions were transformed, and themes of calmness, reaching out to each other, seeing the person, and, enhanced well-being, emerged.
Conclusions: Namaste Care can enrich the quality of life of older people with advanced dementia in care homes. The program was welcomed by care home staff and families, and was achieved with only modest expenditure and no change in staffing levels. The positive impact on residents’ quality of life influenced the well-being of family carers. Care staff found the changes in care enjoyable and rewarding. Namaste Care was valued for the benefits seen in residents; the improvement in relationships; and the shift towards a person-centred, relationship-based culture of care brought about by introducing the program. Namaste Care deserves further exploration and investigation including a randomised controlled trial.