Exploring how residential care facilities can enhance the autonomy of people with dementia and improve informal care

Jogé Boumans*, Leonieke C Van Boekel, Marjolein E. A. Verbiest, Caroline A Baan, Katrien G Luijkx

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
137 Downloads (Pure)


Background and objectives:
Residential care facilities (RCFs) strive to enhance autonomy for people with dementia and to enhance informal care provision, although this is difficult. This study explored how RCF staff can enhance autonomy and improve informal care by looking at the influence of interactions (contact and approachability between residents, staff members and informal caregivers) and the physical environment, including the use of technologies.

Research design and methods:
A realist evaluation multiple-case study was conducted using document analyses, eight semi-structured interviews with staff members and relatives and 56 hours of observations of residents across two RCFs aiming to provide person-centred care. Realist logic of analysis was performed, involving Context-Mechanism-Outcome configurations.

The behaviour, attitudes and interactions of staff members with residents and informal caregivers appeared to contribute to the autonomy of people with dementia and enhance informal care provision. The physical environment of the RCFs and the use of technologies were less relevant to enhancing autonomy and informal care provision, although they can support staff members in providing person-centred care in daily practice.

Discussion and implications:
The findings add to those of other studies regarding the importance of interaction between residents, staff members and informal caregivers. The findings provide insight for other RCFs on how successfully to enhance autonomy for their residents and to improve informal care provision, as well as, more broadly, how to implement person-centred care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)136-152
JournalDementia. The International Journal of Social Research and Practice
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • autonomy
  • dementia (care) person-centred care
  • informal care
  • interactions
  • physical environment
  • realist evaluation
  • technology


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