Nursing Home Care of Dementia Patients
A National Survey in Cyprus
C. Messis*, Y. Kalakoutas**, C. Ioannides***
Cyprus Mental Health Commission, Nicosia, Cyprus

Introduction

The number of nursing homes in Cyprus has increased geometrically during the last two decades. From a handful they are now around 140. This is not unrelated to the increase of the 65+ age group in the general population that reached 12% according to the 2001 demographic report of the Department of Statistics. In order to find out the number of people with dementia residing in nursing homes and evaluate some of the parameters that have to do with satisfactory care this survey was undertaken.

Material and Method

An anonymous questionnaire for the nursing home directors and the family as well as a modified MMSE was administered to 422 (out of 3.300) residents. 20 nursing homes having an average of 25 residents were selected randomly from all over Cyprus. The reason for admission (old age, dementia, chronic psychosis or other) medications received, age, sex, ability to communicate as well as family satisfaction were some of the parameters examined. The questionnaire was administered by graduate and postgraduate nursing and other students who underwent two days training. Residents with mental retardation, stroke, blindness, deafness, chronic psychosis and severe handicap of the hands were excluded from the final evaluation.

Results

A surprising 51% of the residents had some degree of dementia. The majority were undetected on admission. Only a small minority is receiving anti AD medication although they are entitled free prescription from the government pharmacies. The family satisfaction with the care is high. Neuroleptics and or hypnotics are taken by a minority (30%) of the residents irrespective of having dementia or not. Age, gender and primary education were independent variables influencing the presence of dementia.

Conclusions

  1. There is a high prevalence of demented residents in the nursing homes of Cyprus, similar to that reported in other European countries recently.
  2. The situation will most likely get worse in the near future and improved services quantitatively and qualitatively will be necessary for their care.
  3. The early detection of dementia and administration of the appropriate medication and care could delay admission to the nursing homes.

* President Cyprus Mental Health Commission
** President Cyprus Psychiatric Association
*** Vice President Cyprus Nursing Home Owners Association