An exploration of the attitudes of staff in care homes and the strategies they use to manage aggression is relatively under researched in the UK.
Given the lack of research in this area the development of the Management of Aggression in People with Dementia Attitude Questionnaire was required.
It is clear that despite some concerns about practices in older people’s settings, the findings of this study highlighted a positive emphasis upon person-centred approaches to care in both prevention and management of aggression. This was reflected in staff attitudes.
Aggression is reportedly common among older people with dementia in residential care. The attitudes of staff in care homes and strategies they use are under researched. Theoretical models that may be used to both understand and respond to such behaviour exist. They are the standard and person-centred paradigms. The aim of this study was to explore the views of nursing staff about aggressive behaviour in people with dementia and strategies used in practice. A survey of the attitudes of staff in six dementia care units using the Management of Aggression in People with Dementia Attitude Questionnaire was conducted including an audit of aggressive incidents using the Staff Observation Aggression Scale – Revised over a 3-month period. Staff expressed views reflective of a person-centred as opposed to standard paradigm. They viewed aggressive behaviour by people with dementia as deriving from the environment, situation or interactions with others. Participants strongly supported interpersonal means of responding to aggression, the moderate use of medication, and were largely opposed to physical restraint. Aggressive incidents were managed using less intrusive strategies such as distraction and de-escalation. Responses to aggressive behaviour, while pragmatic, were largely underpinned by a person-centred ethic as reflected in the attitudes expressed by staff.