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Digital training programme improves quality of life for care residents with dementia

care home resident

Published: 20 December 2023

A digital training programme, part funded by NIHR, which encouraged meaningful social interactions during the COVID-19 pandemic, improved the quality of life of care residents with dementia and led to a drop in the use of sedative medications.

Programme designed to support carers 

The iWHELD programme used a website to support care home staff in delivering personalised care. The 16 week trial, delivered during the pandemic, included staff in 149 residential homes in the UK caring for more than 700 people. Weekly online 45-minute interactive coaching sessions covered:

  • how to encourage meaningful social interactions
  • how to enhance care
  • sharing best practices and experience


The researchers compared the study sites to residential homes with standard care. In the trial sites there were benefits for the following groups:

  • residents who contracted COVID-19 reported an improved quality of life compared to a drop in quality of life in the standard care group 
  • residents who showed signs of agitation found significant agitation reduced by 15% 
  • residents use of the psychotropic medications reduced by 20%

The iWHELD programme is an accessible and scalable solution. Its 24/7 access to materials supports night shift staff and fosters personalised learning. Weekly coaching sessions with peer nursing homes promote collaboration. The research shows iWHELD can be used to increase the quality of life for residents in nursing home settings.

Creator of the iWHELD platform and lead author of the paper, Joanne McDermid, said: “iWHELD was created as a ground-breaking, first-of-its-kind solution, placing care staff and people living with dementia at the heart of support for care homes and nursing homes. iWHELD leverages digital innovation to bring together stories, ideas and communities.”

Katie Ives took part in the iWHELD training as the manager of Stonebow House care home in Worcestershire. She said: “We all really enjoyed it, and it’s made a huge difference to some of our residents. We’ve always tailored our approach to residents, but now we offer a wider variety of activities and clubs to suit people’s interests in their lives, and we’re seeing some residents spend more time in communal areas and less time in their rooms as a result.”

The paper was published in Alzheimer's & Dementia. The study was part funded by the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR Exeter Biomedical Research Centre, and supported by the NIHR Applied Research Collaboration South West Peninsula

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