Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 May 2016
While videoconferencing, telementoring, and peer support have been shown to enhance services in some instances, there has been no research investigating the use of these technologies in supporting professionals managing clients with dementia. The objective of this research was to evaluate expansion of an old age psychiatry consultation service and pilot test a model to improve medical supervision and clinical governance for staff within regional and remote areas using remote information technology.
The design was a mixed methods (qualitative and quantitative) evaluation using before, mid-point and post-implementation semi-structured interviews and questionnaires to examine orientation, acceptance, and impact underpinned by theoretical approaches to evaluation. Education evaluations used a Likert style response template. Participants were 18 dementia service staff, including staff from linked services and old age psychiatrists. Qualitative interviews addressed the pilot implementation including: expectations, experiences, strategies for improving the pilot, and perceived impact on work practice and professional development opportunities.
There was high satisfaction with the program. The case conference process contributed to perceived improved outcomes for clients, family, and staff. Clinicians perceived improvement in family carer and staff carer stress and their confidence in managing clients with behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD). Thematic analysis indicated that the pilot enhanced professional development, decreased travel time, and improved team cohesion.
Given the increasing aging population in regional, rural, and remote areas, initiatives using videoconferencing and telementoring will help to develop a confident and skilled workforce. This pilot program was found to be acceptable and feasible. Potential benefits for clients and family carers should be examined in future resesarch.