Background: A previous study in Amsterdam showed that combined family support in the Meeting Centres Support Programme, in which dementia patients and their carers are both supported by one professional staff member, is more effective in influencing behaviour problems and mood of dementia patients living in the community than non-integrated support, such as day care only.
Objective: A multi-centre implementation study tests if similar effects are achieved in other regions of The Netherlands.
Methods: A pretest–posttest control group design was applied. 112 dementia patients who visited psychogeriatric day care in eight community centres across the country and in three nursing homes, and their carers participated in the study. The patients in the experimental group (n = 89) received support from the Meeting Centres Support Programme together with their carers, while the control group (n = 23) received day care only. Behaviour problems (agressive behaviour, inactivity, non-social behaviour) and mood (dissatisfaction, depressive behaviour) were assessed using standardized observation scales. Quality of life was assessed by interviewing the patients.
Results: After 7 months the Meeting Centres Support Programme, compared to regular day care, showed a moderately positive effect on the degree of total behaviour problems (effect size = 0.52), especially on inactivity (effect size = 0.37) and non-social behaviour (effect size = 0.60), a large effect on depressive behaviour (effect size = 0.92) and a moderate effect on self-esteem (effect size = 0.43).
Conclusions: The Meeting Centres Support Programme proves to be more effective than regular day care in influencing behaviour problems, especially inactivity and non-social behaviour, and depressed mood. Participation in the programme also seems to have a positive effect on self-esteem, an important aspect of quality of life. These findings surpass the results of the Amsterdam study and confirm the surplus value of the combined family support in the Meeting Centres Support Programme as compared to regular day care for people with mild to severe dementia. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.