Background: A new communication method, the "Veder method", has recently been developed. Caregivers are trained to apply this method in a group activity ("living-room theatre activity") for people with dementia in which theatrical stimuli are used in combination with proven emotion-oriented care methods. The aim of this exploratory study was to evaluate the added value of the Veder method group activity compared to a regular reminiscence group activity and to investigate whether professional carers can achieve the same effects with the Veder method as professional actors.
Methods: A quasi-experimental three-group design was used. Experimental group 1 (E1; n = 65) joined a living-room theatre activity offered by trained professional caregivers. Experimental group 2 (E2; n = 31) joined a living-room theatre activity offered by professional actors. The control group (n = 55) received a usual reminiscence group activity. Behavior, mood and aspects of quality of life were measured using standardized observation scales at three points in time: (T1) pretest; (T2) during the intervention and; (T3) post-test, two hours after the intervention.
Results: During the intervention, significant differences were found in favor of the group that was offered a living-room theatre activity by actors (E2) on different aspects of behavior, mood and quality of life. At post-test, people in E2 were more alert compared to the control group. Moreover, they recalled more memories and showed less socially isolated behavior compared to the control group.
Conclusion: This exploratory study shows that the Veder method has some clear positive effects on behavior and mood of people with dementia when applied by professional actors.