Evaluation of a caregiver education program to support memory and communication in dementia: A controlled pretest-posttest study with nursing home staff

Megan Broughton*, Erin R. Smith-Conway, Rosemary Baker, Anthony J. Angwin, Nancy A. Pachana, David A. Copland, Michael S. Humphreys, Cindy Gallois, Gerard J. Byrne, Helen J. Chenery

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is a need for simple multimedia training programs designed to upskill the dementia care workforce. A DVD-based training program entitled RECAPS and MESSAGE has been designed to provide caregivers with strategies to support memory and communication in people with dementia. Objectives: The aims of this study were: (1) to evaluate the effects of the RECAPS and MESSAGE training on knowledge of support strategies, and caregiver satisfaction, in nursing home care staff, and (2) to evaluate staff opinion of the training. Design: A multi-centre controlled pretest-posttest trial was conducted between June 2009 and January 2010, with baseline, immediately post-training and 3-month follow-up assessment. Setting: Four nursing homes in Queensland, Australia. Participants: All care staff were invited to participate. Of the 68 participants who entered the study, 52 (37 training participants and 15 controls) completed outcome measures at baseline and 3-month follow-up. 63.5% of participants were nursing assistants, 25% were qualified nurses and 11.5% were recreational/activities officers. Methods: The training and control groups were compared on the following outcomes: (1) knowledge of memory and communication support strategies, and (2) caregiver satisfaction. In the training group, the immediate effects of training on knowledge, and the effects of role (nurse, nursing assistant, recreational staff) on both outcome measures, were also examined. Staff opinion of the training was assessed immediately post-training and at 3-month follow-up. Results: The training group showed a significant improvement in knowledge of support strategies from baseline to immediately post-training (p=0.001). Comparison of the training and control groups revealed a significant increase in knowledge for the training group (p=0.011), but not for the control group (p=0.33), between baseline and 3-month follow-up. Examination of caregiver satisfaction by care staff role in the training group revealed that only the qualified nurses showed higher levels of caregiver satisfaction at 3-month follow-up (p=0.013). Staff rated the training positively both for usefulness and applicability. Conclusion: The RECAPS and MESSAGE training improved nursing home care staff's knowledge of support strategies for memory and communication, and gains were maintained at 3-month follow-up. Moreover, the training was well received by staff.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1436-1444
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Nursing Studies
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


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