Translating knowledge into care to enhance sensory-cognitive health of people in longterm care in Ireland

This Knowledge Translation (KT) project will convert our research into practice to improve sensory-cognitive health in residents with dementia (RwD) in nursing homes in Ireland.  We are currently conducting a pilot clinical trial (‘SENSE-Cog Residential Care’) to evaluate whether enhancing sensory health (i.e. hearing/vision) in RwD improves quality of life, partly through care staff training. To do this, we need to: (1) raise awareness of sensory-cognitive health in care staff across nursing homes in Ireland; and (2) develop a state-of-the-art digital learning tool for care staff for evaluation in a future large-scale clinical trial.

The problem:  85% of RwD in nursing homes have significant hearing and/or vision impairments, usually undetected or uncorrected. Additionally, sensory environments (i.e. noise, lighting levels) in homes are often difficult, contributing to low quality of life. Training staff to address sensory-health issues is critical to address this.

Why it’s important: Unaddressed/undetected sensory impairment in RwD is associated with more rapid cognitive and functional decline, higher levels of behavioural disturbance, greater care burden and increased dependency. Moreover, if hearing and vision health is not addressed in RwD, it impacts on their right to communication, as highlighted by recent COVID-19 restrictions.

What we will do: Working with stakeholders (people with lived experience, care home staff, professionals, policy makers) and a specialist digital learning design company (TOSL) using state-of-the-art learning technology and adult education principles, we will co-design two innovative and engaging digital educational products aimed at care staff in nursing homes:  

  1.  A short, accessible, ‘basic’ online promotional-educational video about sensory health for RwD for widespread use in all Irish nursing homes, relevant third sector organisations, and by interested public; and
  2. an ‘extended’ online, professional standard digital version of the staff learning manual for ‘Sensory Champions’, currently being evaluated in our active SENSE-Cog trial, improving our output.
Award Date
12 September 2022
Award Value
Principal Investigator
Professor Iracema Leroi
Host Institution
Trinity College Dublin
Knowledge Translation Awards