Background: People living with dementia (PWD) and their informal caregivers often report difficulties in maintaining their usual activities. Several dyadic, psychosocial, activating interventions were developed to create insight into how to cope with limitations in a practical way and to increase skills for maintaining personal activities. Effects of these interventions varied so far. More knowledge on the working mechanisms of activating interventions might help to increase their impact. This study will provide more insights into the working mechanisms of three dyadic, psychosocial, activating interventions as the participating PWD, caregivers, and coaches perceived them during the interventions.
Participants and methods: We used a qualitative design with semi-structured interviews of 34 dyads that included 27 PWD, 34 caregivers, and 19 coaches. The data were analyzed with the constant comparative method.
Results: Many PWD and caregivers found capacity-building approaches beneficial. We identified "empowerment" as the core theme. Three working mechanisms explained why the interventions were perceived as having a beneficial impact: 1) enabling activities without providing false hope; 2) exploring the most important personal activity needs of the PWD and caregivers; and 3) a solution-focused approach to adapt, test, and practice activities. An individualized approach contributed to positive change.
Conclusion: For the overarching working mechanism empowerment, expertise in the field of dementia and psychological skills of coaches seem to be important. Assessing the needs, capacities, and limitations of both the PWD and the caregivers to take part in activities seems to be key, as well as the communication about it and the skills to teach a solution-focused approach. Studies on the impact of psychosocial and activating interventions might benefit from considering outcome measures directed at empowerment, along with aspects such as hope and belief in one's own capacities versus traditional outcome measures as mood, burden, or quality of life.
- occupational therapy
- pleasant events
- psychosocial interventions
- working mechanisms