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Improving Well-being and Health for People with Dementia (WHELD): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

Rhiannon Whitaker1, Jane Fossey2*, Clive Ballard3, Martin Orrell4, Esme Moniz-Cook5, Robert T Woods6, Joanna Murray7, Jane Stafford2, Martin Knapp8, Renee Romeo8, Barbara Woodward Carlton9, Ingelin Testad3 and Zunera Khan3

Author Affiliations

1 North Wales Organisation for Randomised Trials in Health, Bangor University, Holyhead Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2PZ, UK

2 Psychological Services, Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, Fulbrook Centre, Oxford OX3 7JU, UK

3 Wolfson Centre for Age Related Diseases, King’s College London, Guy’s Campus, London SE1 1UL, UK

4 University College London, 67-73 Riding House Street, London W1W 7EJ, UK

5 Institute of Rehabilitation: Dementia Applied Research Centre, University of Hull, Health House, Grange Park Lane, Hull, East Yorkshire HU10 6DT, UK

6 Dementia Services Development Centre, Wales, Institute of Medical and Social Care Research, Bangor University, Holyhead Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2PX, UK

7 Section of Mental Health and Ageing, Health Service and Population Research Department, The Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College London, PO26, The David Goldberg Centre, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK

8 London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK

9 Alzheimer’s Society, Devon House, 58 St Katharine’s Way, London E1W 1LB, UK

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Trials 2014, 15:284  doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-284

Published: 12 July 2014



People with dementia living in care homes often have complex mental health problems, disabilities and social needs. Providing more comprehensive training for staff working in care home environments is a high national priority. It is important that this training is evidence based and delivers improvement for people with dementia residing in these environments. Well-being and Health for People with Dementia (WHELD) combines the most effective elements of existing approaches to develop a comprehensive but practical staff training intervention. This optimised intervention is based on a factorial study and qualitative evaluation, to combine: training on person-centred care, promoting person-centred activities and interactions, and providing care home staff and general practitioners with updated knowledge regarding the optimal use of psychotropic medications for persons with dementia in care homes.


The trial will be a randomised controlled two-arm cluster single blind trial that will take place for nine months across 80 care homes in the United Kingdom.


The overarching goal of this trial is to determine whether this optimised WHELD intervention is more effective in improving the quality of life and mental health than the usual care provided to people with dementia living in nursing homes. This study will be the largest and best powered randomised controlled trial (RCT) evaluating the benefits of an augmented person-centred care training intervention in care homes worldwide.

Trial registration

Current controlled trials ISRCTN62237498

Date registered: 5 September 2013

Dementia care homes; Quality of life; Antipsychotic medication; Behavioural symptoms; Cost effectiveness; Implementation; Person-centred care; Social interaction