Improving living and dying for people with advanced dementia living in care homes: a realist review of Namaste Care and other multisensory interventions

Frances Bunn, Jennifer Lynch, Claire Goodman, Catherine Walshe, Nancy Preston , Katherine Froggatt, Rachel Sharpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Seventy percent of people with advanced dementia live and die in care homes. Multisensory approaches, such as Namaste Care, have been developed to improve the quality of life and dying for people with advanced dementia but little is known about effectiveness or optimum delivery. The aim of this review was to develop an explanatory account of how the Namaste Care intervention might work, on what outcomes, and in what circumstances. Methods: This is a realist review involving scoping of the literature and stakeholder interviews to develop theoretical explanations of how interventions might work, systematic searches of the evidence to test and develop the theories, and their validation with a purposive sample of stakeholders. Twenty stakeholders - user/patient representatives, dementia care providers, care home staff, researchers -took part in interviews and/or workshops. Results: We included 85 papers. Eight focused on Namaste Care and the remainder on other types of sensory interventions such as music therapy or massage. We identified three context-mechanism-outcome configurations which together provide an explanatory account of what needs to be in place for Namaste Care to work for people living with advanced dementia. This includes: providing structured access to social and physical stimulation, equipping care home staff to cope effectively with complex behaviours and variable responses, and providing a framework for person-centred care. A key overarching theme concerned the importance of activities that enabled the development of moments of connection for people with advanced dementia. Conclusions: This realist review provides a coherent account of how Namaste Care, and other multisensory interventions might work. It provides practitioners and researchers with a framework to judge the feasibility and likely success of Namaste Care in long term settings. Key for staff and residents is that the intervention triggers feelings of familiarity, reassurance, engagement and connection.

Original languageEnglish
Article number303
Number of pages15
JournalBMC Geriatrics
Publication statusPublished - 6 Dec 2018


  • Dementia
  • Multisensory
  • Namaste care
  • Palliative care
  • Realist review
  • Realist synthesis


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