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2022 Advancing Research on Care and Outcome Measurements (ARCOM)

Social connection in long-term care home residents

Can measuring levels of social interaction help improve the health and well-being of people with dementia living in care homes?

Jennifer Bethell, Ph.D.
University Health Network
Toronto, Canada


Social interaction is vital for maintaining the well-being of people with dementia in long-term care (LTC) homes. Studies, however, indicate that the quality and quantity of social contacts in this population are often insufficient. Such findings highlight the need for more accurate ways of measuring social connection in care homes, and for determining what levels of interaction are necessary for people at different stages of dementia.

Research Plan

Dr. Jennifer Bethell and colleagues will develop a novel test for measuring social connection among people with dementia in LTC communities. First, they will review previous research in this area of study and assess how well various LTCs currently appraise social interaction in their homes. Next, they will interview researchers and LTC care providers, as well as people with dementia and their family members, to identify what aspects of social interaction are most important to these partners. Using results from this work, Dr. Bethell and team will devise a new social connection assessment tool and will evaluate how well the test works in various LTCs across Canada and the United Kingdom.


Dr. Bethell’s project could shed new light on how social interaction impacts mental health and quality of life in long-term care homes. It could also yield a novel tool for improving the care of people with dementia.   

The ARCOM Grant Program was developed jointly with Leveraging an Interdisciplinary Consortium to Improve Care and Outcomes for Persons Living With Alzheimer’s and Dementia (LINC-AD). The funding partners for this initiative are the Brain Canada Foundation through the Canada Brain Research Fund, an innovative partnership between the government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada and the Alzheimer’s Association.

For more information on LINC-AD please visit: https://alz.org/linc-ad

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