BACKGROUND: providing dignity in health care for older people is an important policy and clinical objective but requires implementation using reliable methods. Our objective was to investigate the feasibility of a person-centred observational practice development method known as dementia care mapping (DCM) in hospital wards for physically ill older people, including those who do not have dementia. METHODS: DCM (version 8) was conducted in three elderly care general hospital wards and in two community hospitals. Summary statistics were calculated from the DCM data to assess feasibility and adequacy of the DCM coding system. RESULTS: fifty-eight participants were mapped for 84 observation hours/414 patient hours (4,968 5-min time frames). There was a relatively high proportion (942/2,376; 40% time frames) of missing data in the community hospitals due to time patients spent away from the area under observation. All 3,624 of the time frames with patient-observed data could be coded utilising the existing Behaviour Category and Mood/Engagement Value coding frameworks. Discussion: the results from this preliminary study are promising and indicate that DCM is potentially feasible in elderly care general hospital wards, without the need for major modification.
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