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The Gerontologist 45:686-693 (2005)
© 2005 The Gerontological Society of America

STAR: A Dementia-Specific Training Program for Staff in Assisted Living Residences

Nancy Morrow-Howell, MSW, PhD, Editor

Linda Teri, PhD1, Piruz Huda, MN, ARNP1, Laura Gibbons, PhD1, Heather Young, RN, PhD2 and June van Leynseele, MA1

Correspondence: Address correspondence to Linda Teri, PhD, Psychosocial and Community Health, University of Washington, Box 358733, Seattle, WA 98195-8733. E-mail: lteri{at}

Purpose: This article describes, and provides data on, an innovative, comprehensive, dementia-specific training program designed to teach direct care staff in assisted living residences to improve care and reduce problems in residents with dementia. Design and Methods: STAR—which stands for Staff Training in Assisted living Residences—provides two 4-hr workshops augmented by four individualized on-site consultations and three leadership sessions. Developed by means of an iterative process of implementation and revision, it was then evaluated in a small randomized controlled trial. A total of 114 staff and 120 residents in 15 residences participated. Results: STAR was exceptionally well received. Training details are provided with a discussion of unique challenges inherent in implementation. Following training, STAR residents evidenced significantly reduced levels of affective and behavioral distress compared with control residents. Furthermore, STAR residents improved whereas control residents worsened (p <.05). Staff with STAR staff training reported less adverse impact and reaction to residents' problems (p <.05) and more job satisfaction (p <.10) compared with control staff. Implications: STAR is an effective training program for direct care staff working with dementia residents in assisted living. The importance of continued development and investigation of STAR efficacy and effectiveness is underscored by the growing numbers of residents with dementia who are receiving care in these settings.

Key Words: Alzheimer's disease • Behavior problems • Depression • Anxiety

All GSA journals Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Copyright © 2005 by The Gerontological Society of America.