The Use of Virtual and Immersive Technology in Creating Personalized Multisensory Spaces for People Living With Dementia (SENSE-GARDEN): Protocol for a Multisite Before-After Trial
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Background: The number of people living with dementia is rapidly increasing. With dementia’s impact on memory, communication, and self-identity, it is important to identify ways of meeting individual needs of diagnosed individuals and their caregivers. This study will test a new intervention, SENSE-GARDEN, that integrates autobiographical music, films, pictures, and scents with innovative technology to create an immersive environment tailored specifically for the individual. Objective: The SENSE-GARDEN study is an Active Assisted Living Program–funded multicenter project. The primary objective of the study is to assess whether a personalized, innovative technology-based intervention can improve the well-being of older adults living with moderate to severe dementia. The study will also assess whether the intervention can improve coping and reduce burden in caregivers. Methods: A controlled before-after study design will be used. There will be 3 sites in 3 trial countries: Belgium, Norway, and Portugal. A total of 55 people with dementia (PWDs) will be recruited. All eligible participants for the study will be randomized into the intervention or control group. For the first three months of the study, all participants will receive the SENSE-GARDEN intervention. For the final month of the study, the intervention group will continue visits to the SENSE-GARDEN, and the control group will discontinue visits. A mixed-methods approach will be used, including the use of standardized outcome measures, quantitative physiological data, and qualitative interview data. Results: The trials commenced recruitment in August 2019, and all data are expected to be collected by the end of May 2020. A user-centered design process is underway, with results from the first phase of user interviews indicating that people with mild cognitive impairment, family caregivers, and professional caregivers consider the SENSE-GARDEN to be a potentially valuable tool in providing numerous benefits to dementia care. Feasibility testing of the SENSE-GARDEN has been completed and results are expected to be published in October 2019. Conclusions: Findings from the SENSE-GARDEN trials will provide insights into the use of technology for personalizing interventions to the PWD. This will have potential implications on not only dementia research, but it may also have influences on care practice.