What do nursing home residents and staff have to say about the residents’ depression and intervention needs?

The aims of this study are (1) to examine nursing home residents’ own perceptions of depressive symptoms and depression risk factors, encompassing institutional, personal, psychosocial, and spiritual domains, and to assess their preferences and desires for acceptable and effective interventions; and (2) to examine nursing home staff members’ perspectives on feasible and effective depression interventions and their needs for training in depression assessment. Although research findings have consistently shown that deprivation of individual autonomy, self-determination, and independence in nursing homes contributes to a low quality of life and to depression among residents, few studies have examined residents’ own perceptions of their depression.

Although a significantly higher proportion of older nursing home residents than their community-dwelling peers suffer from depressive symptoms, depression interventions are not commonly provided in nursing homes. Nursing home staff, including social workers, often lack the skills needed to provide depression assessment and interventions. Late-life depression contributes not only to further deterioration of physical and functional health among older adults and declining quality of life but also to increasing healthcare costs. Provision of effective depression intervention is imperative to improving the quality of life of older adults and saving taxpayers’ dollars. For nursing home residents, most of whom are in the last decade of their life, making efforts to improve their psychosocial well-being is also an ethical and moral imperative.

To achieve the study’s exploratory and developmental aims, depression screening and qualitative interviews with a select sample of 50 residents and 20 staff members from eight nursing homes in three urban areas and surrounding rural areas in central Texas will be conducted, and mental health characteristics will be extracted from their most recent Minimum Data Set (MDS) assessment charts and will be triangulated with their qualitative data.

The Silberman Fund Faculty Grant Program, The Lois and Samuel Silberman Fund