Background: There is limited best- practice evidence to address behavioral and psychiatric symptoms for those with dementia in Australian rural nursing homes. This study aims to evaluate the outcomes of a person-centered, non-pharmacological dementia care model, ‘Harmony in the Bush’, based on the Progressively Lowered Stress Threshold principles and person-centered music in rural Australia. Methods: A quasi-experimental (nonrandomized, pre-post) intervention study was conducted in five rural nursing homes in Queensland and South Australia. Seventy-four residents with dementia participated in this intervention study, which yielded a sample power of 80%. Eighty-seven staff completed the Caregiver Stress Inventory at pre-post four-weeks of intervention. Staff training workshops focused on the theory of the Progressively Lowered Stress Threshold principles and delivery of person-centered care plan with integrated music intervention. We used reported changes in agitation of the residents, measured using Cohen- Mansfield Agitation Inventory, and staff’s caregiving stress, using Caregivers Stress Inventory. This study adheres to the CONSORT guidelines. Results: Mean age of residents with dementia was 82.4 (7.7) years and 69% were females. The mean age of admission was 80.1(8.4) years. Baseline measures indicated that 32.7% had mild- severe pain and 30.5% reported mild-severe sadness. The results showed statistically significant decline in aggressive behaviors, physically non-aggressive behaviors, verbally agitated behavior and hiding and hoarding. There was similar reduction in staff stress in the domains of aggressive behaviors, inappropriate behaviors, resident safety, and resource deficiency. Conclusions: The Harmony in the Bush model is effective in reducing agitation among dementia residents with significant reduction in staff stress levels in nursing homes in rural Australia. Trial registration: Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (ANZCTR) on 20/2/2018 (Registration No: ACTRN12618000263291p). https://www.anzctr.org.au/Trial/Registration/TrialReview.aspx?id=374458.
- Non-pharmacological intervention
- Nursing homes
- Person-centered care
- Rural Australia