Being Present and Meaningful Engagement for Aged Care Residents Living With Dementia: A Mixed-Methods Evaluation of Australian Care Worker's Experiences. By: Swinton, John; Nagarajan, Srivalli Vilapakkam; Atee, Mustafa; Morris, Thomas and Poulos, Christopher J. 2024. Gerontologist. Vol. 64 Issue 4, p1-12.

Background and Objectives Meaningful engagement is essential for aged care residents living with dementia. Our knowledge pertaining to caring presence for residents living with dementia is limited. This study aims to understand care workers’ experiences of providing care to residents, the challenges they face in being present with residents and support that enable them to be more present and provide person-centered care. Research Design and Methods A mixed-methods approach using surveys and semi-structured interviews with care workers from three Australian residential aged care homes was adopted. Surveys were analyzed using descriptive statistics. Open-ended survey responses and interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. Results Twenty-six care workers completed surveys and a subset (n  = 8) participated in interviews. Survey participants were largely positive about their role and reported that they loved caring for and making a difference in the lives of residents. Three themes emerged from interviews: (a) trust,
connection, and the complexities of maintaining engagement; (b) time as gift and challenge; (c) organizational culture, structure and resources, and enabling carer presence. Discussion and Implications Care workers in our study expressed their desire to be present with residents and stated that enablers such as meaningfully engaging with residents was one of the most enjoyable aspects of their work. Barriers such as staff shortages, competing demands of the role, and time-related impediments to being present were reported. Addressing challenges to being present with residents living with dementia is key to help avoiding poor care practices and resident outcomes.