Funding for the ORCHARD project

Managing dementia with hearing loss in care homes

Dr Mel Ferguson, as co-applicant with Dr Tom Dening (Lead applicant) of the Institute of Mental Health, has won £149,427 to fund the ORCHARD research project. ORCHARD stands for ‘optimising hearing-related communication for care home residents with dementia’. The study looks at the problems that many residents in care homes have with hearing loss, dementia and often both conditions.

Managing dementia with hearing loss in care homes is complex. Hearing tests can be difficult to perform. Care homes are often noisy, making communication harder for someone with poor hearing. Residents and care staff often have different backgrounds: sometimes neither speaks English as their first language. Hearing aids are often supplied, but problems can arise, e.g. the resident doesn’t tolerate the aid or understand what it’s for, may be unable to operate it, or may destroy it. Staff may lack skills and knowledge about hearing, and therefore feel that it is unimportant whether the aid is being worn or not. Hearing aids go missing, which can upset relatives.

This topic is neglected by research and we don’t know the best ways to improve hearing-related communication in this population. We will use a realist synthesis technique to address the questions of what works, how, why, to what extent, for whom and in what circumstances, to manage hearing loss in people with dementia in care homes. Realist synthesis is a flexible approach to reviewing the literature and using expert opinion and experience, designed to understand and evaluate complex health situations

ORCHARD project:

Lead applicant: Prof Tom Dening (Professor of Dementia Research).

Co-applicants: Dr Melanie Ferguson, Dr Geoff Wong, Ms Stevie Vanhegan, Dr Dawn-Marie Walker, Dr Brian Crosbie.

Funder: National Institute for Health Research