Residents living and dying in long-term care (LTC) homes represent one of society’s most frail and marginalized populations of older adults, particularly those residents with advanced dementia who are often excluded from activities that promote quality of life in their last months of life. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and effects of Namaste Care: an innovative program to improve end-of-life care for people with advanced dementia.
This study used a mixed-method survey design to evaluate the Namaste Care program in two LTC homes in Canada. Pain, quality of life, and medication costs were assessed for 31 residents before and 6 months after they participated in Namaste Care. The program consisted of two 2-h sessions per day for 5 days per week. Namaste Care staff provided high sensory care to residents in a calm, therapeutic environment in a small group setting. Feasibility was assessed in terms of recruitment rate, number of sessions attended, retention rate, and any adverse events. Acceptability was assessed using qualitative interviews with staff and family.
The feasibility of Namaste Care was acceptable with a participation rate of 89%. However, participants received only 72% of the sessions delivered and only 78% stayed in the program for at least 3 months due to mortality. After attending Namaste Care, participants’ pain and quality of life improved and medication costs decreased. Family members and staff perceived the program to be beneficial, noting positive changes in residents. The majority of participants were very satisfied with the program, providing suggestions for ongoing engagement throughout the implementation process.
These study findings support the implementation of the Namaste Care program in Canadian LTC homes to improve the quality of life for residents. However, further testing is needed on a larger scale.