Enhancing Minds in Motion® as a Virtual Program Delivery Model for People Living with Dementia and Their Care Partners

A virtual adaptation of the evidence-based Minds in Motion® program, combining physical activity, cognitive stimulation, and social interaction for people living with dementia and their care partners.

Who could benefit from reading this?

  • Individuals and community organizations who are interested in bringing Minds in Motion® in their community.
  • People living with dementia and care partners who may want to become involved in their local Minds in Motion® program.
  • Individuals and community organizations who want to use the lessons learned and recommended resources from this project to create or modify a similar program.

Review the Before you begin section for foundational knowledge that will be helpful for any dementia community initiative.

Key information

Who is this project for? People living with dementia and their care partners

Project Lead: Alzheimer Society of Ontario

Project partners: University of Waterloo, brainXchange and multiple Alzheimer Societies including Sarnia-Lambton, Toronto, Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes, Northumberland & Haliburton, Durham Region, and the Alzheimer Society Southwest Partners

Project status: complete, 2021-2023

Get in touch:

Vanessa Barnes, Alzheimer Society of Sarnia-Lambton

Christina Stergiou-Dayment, Alzheimer Society of Ontario

Project story

Background:

Minds in Motion® (MiM) began as an Alzheimer Society of Ontario pilot project in 2014. Now offered through local Alzheimer Societies across several Canadian provinces, this evidence-based program combines exercise, cognitive engagement, and social interaction for people living with early to mid-stage dementia and their care partners. This project is an extension of the existing in-person program, adapted to be offered virtually in English and French. A virtual approach broadened the program’s reach by allowing participants to engage without the need to travel and avoided the impact of pandemic-related restrictions. People living with dementia and their care partners engage in the program together for 90-minute sessions once a week for eight weeks, conducted through Zoom.

Goals:

To develop and deliver an adapted virtual version of the in-person MiM that provides physical activity, cognitive stimulation, health promotion and social interaction for people living with dementia and their care partners in a way that is:

  • Evidence-informed
  • Consistent
  • Person centered
  • Safe and effective

Milestones and achievements:

  • An updated MiM manual that incorporates considerations for providing this program virtually and includes considerations for diversity, equity and inclusion.
  • Strengthened safety procedures, registration and screening protocols for participants.
  • Improved exercise delivery methods and standardized training requirements for certified exercise instructors.
  • Compilation of an evidence base demonstrating positive outcomes for participants.

Impact

Project findings:

Both people living with dementia and care partners had high levels of satisfaction with the virtual Minds in Motion program.

People living with dementia:

  • Improved physical activity levels
  • Enhanced mental activity levels
  • Improved quality of life post-program

Care partners:

  • Improved mental well-being post-program
  • Maintained physical well-being
  • Maintained social well-being

Want to know more? Download this supplementary resource outlining the data collection methods, the evaluation evidence and the tools used.

Experiences:

“Well for me it was the awareness of how much strength I needed to regain in my legs and my legs are important because they’re my independence. You lose them and you’re really messed up. And I realized the benefit of taking time to do a program of some description for half an hour… it’s made me more aware that you have to make the time to do this because it’s what your body needs. You have to look at the body like an engine, you have to maintain it. It’s made me more aware like that.”

“I know I felt like my strength in general has really declined since I stopped working at the beginning of COVID. And I’ve noticed, even though I think the intensity of the classes has increased over time… I’m feeling stronger now and able to get through just fine compared to the beginning.”

“The part that I found so useful was the motion part because there were exercises presented that I had never thought about before, that… clearly are important, but I just never thought about it. It had to do with the movement of feet and hands, and I just had never thought was so important to, you know, to move and that. So, it was enlightening for me.”

Insights

Lessons learned:

  • When delivering an exercise program virtually, a headset with a microphone is recommended so that participants can clearly hear the exercise instructor.
  • Muting all participants is recommended; however, participants should keep their cameras on for safety so that facilitators can be aware of any falls or accidents.
  • Optimal setup includes three facilitators: one for seated exercises, one for standing exercises, and one for tech support and emergencies.
  • Encourage joint participation (care partner and person living with dementia) for better retention and satisfaction with the program.
  • Recruiting during the summer months can be challenging as people are more inclined to spend time outdoors rather than participating in online programming.
  • Alzheimer Societies delivering MiM are encouraged to:
  • Complete abbreviated versions of the well-being questionnaires with participants, especially with new clients, so they can develop a baseline and track improvements. A lack of improvements among participants could be a signal that a Society is delivering MiM differently than demonstrated in the updated program manual.
  • Conduct yearly fidelity observations to ensure proper exercise intensity.
  • Follow the 90-minute session structure for virtual sessions.
  • When advertising and recruiting new participants, highlight the improvements in well-being observed for people living with dementia.

Recommended resources:

The following resources are recommended to groups interested in implementing similar virtual programming:

A webinar presentation of this initiative is available: Exercise and Dementia: a discussion of lessons learned and best practices

This project was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada under the Dementia Community Investment (DCI).

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