SENSE-Cog Care: A feasibility study of hearing and vision support to improve quality of life in care home residents with dementia

What is the need?  Of the 55,000 people with dementia in Ireland, nearly 17,000 live in nursing homes. Over 90% of these residents have significant hearing and vision problems that are frequently undetected or under-corrected. Also, the sensory environment (noise, bad lighting) in many nursing homes may contribute to poor sensory-cognitive functioning. Poor sensory function can worsen the quality of life for residents with dementia (RwD) by making communication more difficult and increasing confusion and challenging behaviour. This may lead to the prescription of excess medication and significantly adds to the overall cost of care. Thus, hearing and vision care for RwD in nursing homes is a critical unmet need.

What is the solution? Supporting sensory health may be a practical and cost-effective way to improve residents’ quality of life. To do this, we propose a ‘sensory support intervention’  involving: training staff to detect sensory problems and communicate better with residents; ensuring residents have access to good hearing and vision care (hearing aids, glasses); improving the sensory environment of the home (e.g. lighting, noise reduction). 

What will we do? We are already using this approach in people with dementia living in their own homes in an ongoing Europe-wide study ( Here, we propose to adapt this approach for the unique environment of nursing homes by consulting professional and lay stakeholders. We will then test the adapted approach to find out whether: (a) it can it be delivered in nursing homes (‘is it feasible?'); (b) staff and residents like it (‘is it acceptable and tolerated?’); and (c) we can do a large scale research study (trial) evaluating the approach. We also need to discover whether nursing homes in Ireland are willing and able to participate in research. Thus, our study in Ireland will form the basis for future work, called a ‘definitive trial’.

Award Date
04 December 2020
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Iracema Leroi
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
DIFA 2020