Seating

Executive Summary

This study arose from a concern there was widespread variation in seating practices within the residential aged care sector for the older person living with advanced dementia. A lack of evidence in the literature on seating in the context of dementia was felt to be a contributing factor to this variation. This study therefore examined the literature for evidence to guide the selection of seating for the person living with dementia and to understand the outcomes of the various seating options available. This study also sought to obtain qualitative information from the residential aged care sector on current seating practices. These two data sources were reviewed and synthesised by an ‘expert reference group’.

This work was a pilot study which identified a number of issues related to the optimal choice of seating for the person living with dementia within residential aged care. Consequently recommendations to guide current practice were produced and key areas for future research were identified.

The project had three stages: first, a comprehensive review of the relevant literature; second, semi-structured interviews of residential aged care staff and family carers; and, third, the bringing together of an expert reference group in a one-day workshop day to examine how the literature and the interview data informs knowledge about seating for people living with advanced dementia in residential aged care.

The results of the literature review indicated a paucity of dementia-specific knowledge in relation to seating for people living in residential aged care. Seating as a therapeutic intervention contributing to twenty-four hour postural care is identified within the literature for other populations and the applicability of this knowledge in the context of the person living with advanced dementia is considered.

The interview data provided a description of different ‘levels’ of seating and postural care and grounded theory analysis identified the context, key concepts and emerging theories about seating and postural care practices for the person living with advanced dementia in residential aged care.

The expert reference group workshop generated a detailed discussion of seating and postural care practices in residential aged care and concluded that:

  • For the person living with dementia in residential aged care, the ability to sit comfortably in an upright position is important to physiological and psychosocial functioning and has significant quality of life consequences;
  • There would appear to be a lack of knowledge, skills, resources and philosophical framework within residential aged care facilities to provide person-centred seating and postural care;
  • Seating and postural care expertise is identified but is not commonly applied in aged care for a variety of reasons;
  • In generalist residential aged care practice there appears to be a lack of appreciation of the fundamental nature of postural care for older people and of the negative impact of the currently available “one size fits all” seating options. For the person living with advanced dementia this lack of appreciation of the role of seating may be adding to disability, and limiting functional capacity and quality of life.

Recommendations for aged care providers, practitioners and researchers were made.  From this, the carer-focus book 10 Tips about seating and postural care for older people was written to guide decisions about seating for older people.

The full report is available on DCRC site at DCRC

10 Tips about Seating and Postural Care for Older People

Full of clear information and handy hints, this free eBook will help carers and care workers in planning and supporting the physical care of older people and people living with dementia, found here.

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