Awardee: Dr Claire O'Connor
Title of project: Developing an assessment guide for practitioners implementing reablement programs for people living with dementia
Year of completion: 2021
In 2019, Dr Claire O’Connor received a grant under the RM Gibson Program, which supported the development of a brief guide for health practitioners on using a standardised approach (Goal Attainment Scaling-GAS) to assess the impact of engaging in reablement programs for people living with dementia.
As Senior Research Fellow in the School of Psychology at the University of New South Wales, Senior Research Fellow (Honorary) at NeuRA and at HammondCare, Claire combines her clinical training in occupational therapy with her research skills to develop tangible outcomes that are meaningful to ageing populations and people affected by dementia.
‘Prior to this project, we had developed an evidence-informed Handbook of Reablement programs for use by health practitioners to support functioning in people living with dementia. As we were planning how to disseminate and implement the handbook, we realised that there was no standardised way to evaluate these diverse reablement programs in practice,’ says Claire.
The focus of the awarded project was to develop a brief guide for health practitioners on using a standardised approach (Goal Attainment Scaling-GAS) to evaluate meaningful outcomes from engaging in reablement programs for the person living with dementia. The final assessment guide involves a three-step structured approach to evaluating programs:
- Choose goals using Reablement Goal Lists (developed using focus group results)
- Define the chosen goals using a newly developed Dementia-specific SMART Framework
- Score goal attainment using Goal Attainment Scaling - Light.
The freely available assessment guide provides a structured approach for practitioners to identify and evaluate meaningful functional outcomes for people living with dementia participating in reablement programs.
‘In response to participant feedback from the focus groups, the final guide incorporates a ‘light’ version of GAS to maximise usability in real-world practice,’ says Claire.
To date, the assessment guide resources have been downloaded more than 8,000 times. The approach to assessment outlined in the guide is currently being implemented by HammondCare’s community aged care team, indicating the applicability of the guide to real-world practice.
Claire is currently undertaking a Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration (DCRC) post-doctoral fellowship to understand how to bridge the implementation gap to maximise everyday functioning for people living with dementia.