Silent partner in care: Impact of physical environment on quality of life for residents with cognitive impairment in long-term care

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Chamberlain, Stephanie
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The increase in older adults in the Maritime provinces signifies the need to focus on the suitability of current continuing care services, and plan for the expected increase in prevalence of Alzheimer’s and related dementias. Nursing homes have an increasing need to offer spaces that are consistent with the changing health needs of older adults with cognitive impairments, and support family and community engagement in the home. Family members of residents with cognitive impairments provide a unique opportunity to examine the perspective of family, who are often an under examined partner in the care team. This study examines family member survey and case study data collected by the Care and Construction project. Using the Person-Environment Fit Model, the aim of the project is to explore the impact of facility features and design elements on quality of life for residents with cognitive impairment from the family perspective. The research seeks to better understand how residents and family members use the available space and if the environment supports their interactions in the home. Analysis of the survey data revealed a relationship between the homelikeness, square footage, and size of neighborhood on resident quality of life. Family members have positive perceptions of the nursing home environment when there is an opportunity to personalize private space, and there are communal areas that support social engagement and individual resident activity needs. The analysis suggests that facility features and design elements can positively impact family member perceptions of cognitively impaired resident quality of life.
Long-term care , Continuing care , Eldercare