Nursing assistants’ behaviour during morning care: effects of the implementation of snoezelen, integrated in 24-hour dementia care


  • Julia C.M. Van Weert PhD,

  • Bienke M. Janssen MA,

  • Alexandra M. Van Dulmen PhD,

  • Peter M.M. Spreeuwenberg MA,

  • Jozien M. Bensing PhD,

  • Miel W. Ribbe MD PhD

Julia C.M. van Weert,
Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research,
PO Box 1568,
3500 BN, Utrecht,
The Netherlands.


Aim.  This paper reports an investigation of the effects of the implementation of snoezelen, or multisensory stimulation, on the quality of nursing assistants’ behaviour during morning care.

Background.  Nursing assistants in long-term dementia care are often unaware of the impact of their behaviour on patient functioning. Snoezelen is a psychosocial intervention that might improve the quality of caregiver behaviour by combining a person-centred approach with the integration of sensory stimuli.

Methods.  A quasi-experimental pre- and post-test design was implemented in 12 wards for older mentally infirm patients at six nursing homes. The experimental group intervention was a 4-day in-house ‘snoezelen’ training, stimulus preference screening and supervision meetings. The control group received usual nursing home care. The effectiveness of the intervention was studied by analysing 250 video recordings, which were assessed by independent observers using a 4-point measurement scale developed for this study and based on Kitwood's Dialectical Framework.

Results.  The results showed a statistically significant increase in ‘Positive Person Work’ and decrease in ‘Malignant Social Psychology’ (total scores) after the implementation of snoezelen. Nursing assistants in the experimental group also improved by statistically significant amounts on all subitems of ‘Positive Person Work’. The mean number of sensory stimuli, offered explicitly, increased.

Conclusion.  The implementation of snoezelen succeeded in effecting a change to a more person-centred approach during morning care. The results indicate that nursing assistants’ behaviour can be positively changed provided that the new care model has been successfully implemented.