The 'Continu-A-mente' project: An interdisciplinary program to promote the continuity of care between hospital and community for people with dementia and their caregivers

Pozzi, Christian and Staglianò, Andrea and Ballabio, Claudia and De Ponti, Chiara and Bartoli, Federica and Antolini, Laura and Ferrara, Maria Cristina and Morandi, Alessandro and Cavalli, Stefano and Gitlin, Laura N. and Bellelli, Giuseppe (2024) The 'Continu-A-mente' project: An interdisciplinary program to promote the continuity of care between hospital and community for people with dementia and their caregivers. Medical Research Archives, 12 (3).

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Nonpharmacological approaches are recommended as first-line treatment for the neuropsychiatric symptoms of persons living with dementia. Tailored Activity Program is a non-pharmacological approach which has shown to reduce neuropsychiatric symptoms and functional dependence of persons living with dementia at the community, as well as caregiver’s distress. The aim of the study is to assess the feasibility of a project in which the Tailored Activity Program is delivered partially at an acute hospital ward and partially at the patient's home. The study is aimed at enrolling 50 dyads (patients/caregivers) from the memory clinic, acute geriatric ward, or short-stay emergency department at the IRCCS San Gerardo dei Tintori, Monza (Italy). Inclusion criteria are: the patient’s clinical diagnosis of dementia, clinically detectable neuropsychiatric symptoms (Neuro Psychiatric Inventory, NPI score >6 in at least one item), the ability to participate in activities of daily living (Katz’s index ≥ 2), the presence of a caregiver (aged ≥ 21 years; minimum 4 hours of daily care), and the willingness of the dyad patient/caregiver to participate in the project. Treatment is delivered both i) in hospital (2 sessions) and ii) at home (6 sessions), including occupational therapy, telemedicine and nursing care provided once a week. The following variables are measured: Neuro Psychiatric Inventory, Time Up and Go Test, Katz’s Index and the level of caregiver’s sense of competence with the Sense of Competence Questionnaire. Data are collected both at baseline, at the end of the treatment, with a follow-up scheduled at 4 months after enrollment. Primary outcome measure is the dyad's retention rate at 4-month follow-up. Secondary outcomes are the reduction in the patient’s frequency and severity of NPS; the improvement in the patient’s Time Up and Go Test score; the improvement in the patient's levels of autonomy and participation in activities of daily living and improvement in the caregiver’s Sense of Competence Questionnaire score. We seek to evaluate whether the Tailored Activity Program is well-received by the patient/caregiver dyad and, consequently, whether our project is feasible. If this objective is achieved, and if we also report some improvement in the secondary outcomes, we can then plan a larger multicenter study aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of this approach, partly delivered at the hospital and partly at patient’s home.

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