Bathing without a battle: organizational and physical environmental features associated with resident agitation during bathing on dementia special care units

Agitation in cognitively impaired individuals is one of the most difficult behaviours for nursing home staff to manage. Research indicates that between 40 percent and 73 percent of long-term care residents with dementia display disruptive behaviour during bathing. This behaviour, which causes distress and sometimes injury for both residents and staff, ranges from verbal and physical resistance, to hostile language, punches, hits and slaps. Both the organizational and physical environments of a long-term care facility are believed to influence resident agitation levels. However, most research on the bathing of individuals with dementia has focused on only one of these environments. Heather Cooke is examining the bathing policies, training of bath staff, staff assignment and physical features of bathing areas in all Dementia Special Care Units in B.C., to explore the role of such features in the occurrence of resident agitation during bathing. Findings from the study will be used to develop standards and best practices designed to reduce resident agitation and to guide health care planners in the appropriate distribution of funds for improving the care facility.