The acute care setting is not ideal for older people with dementia; responsive behaviours may be triggered when care is delivered within a strange environment by staff with limited knowledge of life history and personal preferences. Responsive behaviours (e.g., yelling, hitting, restlessness) are used by older people with dementia to communicate their needs and concerns. It is unknown whether non-pharmacological approaches used by nurses support the development of a meaningful interpersonal relationship between nurses and older people with dementia.
The aims of this study were to explore: (a) the types of low investment non-pharmacological approaches (e.g., music, social activities) used by nurses caring for older people experiencing responsive behaviours of dementia in acute medical settings and (b) the factors that influence the decisions of these nurses to implement these approaches.
We present a qualitative secondary analysis of data from a primary study using Thorne’s interpretive description approach. Interviews were conducted with 11 nurses and four allied health professionals from acute medical settings in Canada. A qualitative secondary data analytic approach was used, specifically analytic expansion, and experiential thematic analysis.
egardless of the educational preparation of nurses, the decision to use specific types of low investment non-pharmacological approaches were influenced by the perfunctory development of the interpersonal relationships in acute care hospitals. The factors that led nurses to use limited approaches (e.g., turning on the TV and providing a newspaper) were lack of dementia care education and attending to other acutely ill clients.
This study revealed that nurses in acute medical settings require greater practice growth to deliver relational care which is crucial to supporting older people with dementia. Nurses need education and knowledge translation support to use creative low investment non-pharmacological approaches with the intent on upholding the quality of life older people with dementia.

© The Author(s) 2020.