Rationale: In Canada, as in most industrialized countries, Alzheimer's disease and other related dementia are increasingly prevalent in older people. At an advanced stage, institutionalization in a long-term care (LTC) setting will be the fate of a majority of patients. A structured palliative care approach is increasingly used for cancer patients, but is still rarely accessible in LTC institutions for older people with advanced or terminal dementia. This approach should include a more systematic detection and treatment of pain and other physical and psychological symptoms during the last weeks of life, as well as better communications between patients, families and care staff, particularly relating to advanced care directives. Objectives: The general objective of this study is to implement and evaluate a multidisciplinary and multidimensional program of palliative and end-of-life care for older persons with terminal dementia in LTC facilities. Methodology: The intervention program will include five components:
- daily involvement of a nurse from the regular staff in the LTC facility as a change agent;
- awareness sessions with administrators and staff on the importance of high quality palliative care in dementia;
- a training program for physicians and all the staff involved in direct care of patients;
- systematic discussions with families and distribution to families of a document on different aspects of palliative care in dementia;
- systematic clinical care by regular staff for the control of pain, respiratory symptoms and mouth care. The program will be implemented in two LTC settings (one in Quebec City and one in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada), and results will be compared with the LTC control settings where usual care will be applied without implementation of the program.