Dementia Care Redesigned: Effects of Small-Scale Living Facilities on Residents, Their Family Caregivers, and Staff

Hilde Verbeek*, Sandra M. G. Zwakhalen, Erik van Rossum, Ton Ambergen, Gertrudis I. J. M. Kempen, Jan P. H. Hamers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of small-scale living facilities in dementia care on residents, family caregivers, and staff. Design: This was a quasi-experimental study including 2 types of institutional nursing care: small-scale living facilities (experimental group), and regular psychogeriatric nursing home wards (control group). Three measures were conducted: at baseline and follow-ups after 6 and 12 months. Setting: Twenty-eight houses in small-scale living facilities and 21 regular psychogeriatric nursing home wards. Participants: In total, 259 residents were included in the study: 124 in small-scale living facilities and 135 controls, matched on cognitive and functional status. Furthermore, 229 family caregivers were included and 305 staff members. Measurements: For residents, main outcome measures were quality of life, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and agitation. Main outcome measures for family caregivers included perceived burden, satisfaction, and involvement with care. Main outcome measures for staff were job satisfaction and motivation. Results: No effects were found for residents' total quality of life, neuropsychiatric symptoms, and agitation. Family caregivers in small-scale living reported significantly less burden (adjusted mean difference 0.8, 95% CI 0.1-1.5) and were more satisfied with nursing staff (0.3, 0.2-0.5) than family caregivers in regular wards. No differences were found in their involvement with care. Overall, no significant differences were found for staff's job satisfaction and motivation, although subgroup analyses using contrast groups (regarding typical small-scale living and regular wards) revealed more job satisfaction (2.0, 0.5-3.5) and motivation (0.6, 0.0-1.3) in small-scale living compared with regular wards. Conclusion: This study was unable to demonstrate convincing overall effects of small-scale living facilities. Because governmental policies and, in some countries, financial support, are increasingly aimed at providing small-scale, homelike care, it is suggested that this may not be a final solution to accomplish high-quality dementia care and that other options should be considered. (J Am Med Dir Assoc 2010; 11: 662-670)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-670
JournalJournal of the American Medical Directors Association
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2010


  • Dementia
  • long-term care
  • small-scale housing
  • quality of life


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