Namaste Care programme

Making life meaningful for people with very advanced dementia


Namaste hand massage

In the later stages of dementia people generally become immobile, wholly dependent for their personal care, and unable to communicate effectively or participate in meaningful activities.  At this stage in the disease process people often become isolated and marginalised, and their psychological well-being is  threatened by mental and physical frailty.

People with advanced dementia often decline gradually and the dying process may take months.  Families and professionals often fail to recognise the terminal phase.  At this point, active treatments and costly hospital admissions are almost always inappropriate and futile as well as distressing and traumatic.  Families may feel hopeless and sometimes angry when they are told nothing more can be done.

The Namaste Care programme was developed by Professor Joyce Simard in the USA in 2003. ‘Namaste’ is the Indian greeting meaning ‘to honour the spirit within’.  The care programme was developed to meet the needs of people with advanced dementia for human contact, sensory stimulation and meaningful activity.  Namaste Care seeks to engage people with advanced dementia through sensory input, comfort and pleasure.  Namaste combines compassionate nursing care with music, therapeutic touch, colour, food treats and scents.  Families are supported to acknowledge the progression of  dementia in the positive context of seeking to provide quality of life.  No additional staff or expensive equipment is required to implement the care programme

Iris and Jo Hockley

Iris and Jo Hockley

St Christopher’s Hospice and the South London and Maudsley Foundation Hospital Trust have completed an action research study to implement the Namaste Care programme in local South London Nursing Care Homes looking after people with dementia.  The study found that the Namaste Care programme reduced the frequency and severity of behavioural symptoms in people with advanced dementia.  Namaste was welcomed by care staff, family and friends, and supported dignified and compassionate care for people with advanced dementia in care homes.

We have developed a ‘Toolkit’ / Manual for implementing Namaste Care from the learning from our study.  The ‘Toolkit’ has been piloted with workshops at St Christopher’s over the last year and is now available on our website.  The workshops have been positively evaluated and continue through 2015.

For further information about the Namaste Care programme, the study or the workshops please contact the Education Department at St Christopher’s.

Top photo: hand massage with Louisa Stone. Above photo: Iris, a resident at Park Avenue Care Home in Bromley with Jo Hockley from St Christopher’s in the Namaste Club at Park Avenue. Iris was very happy to have her photograph taken and was delighted to be on the website. She said “Oh that’s wonderful, now I am famous!” 


Thompsell A, Stacpoole M, Hockley J. (2014). Namaste Care: the benefits and challenges. Journal of Dementia Care; Vol 2, No 2, 28-30

Hockley J, Stacpoole M. (2014). The use of action research as a methodology in healthcare research.European Journal of Palliative Care; 21(3), 110-114

Stacpoole M, Hockley J, Thompsell A, Simard J, Volicer L. (2014) The Namaste Care programme can reduce behavioural symptoms in care home residents with advanced dementia. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 

Min Stacpoole (2014) Living or existing? Implementing the Namaste Care programme for people with advanced dementiaehospice journal 5 September 2014.

The article “Implementing the Namaste Care Program for residents with advanced dementia: exploring the perceptions of families and staff in UK care homes” has been officially published on Annals of Palliative Medicine This article can be open access online and will be available in PubMed soon.


A realist review and feasibility study for a cluster randomised controlled trial

HTA Project: 15/10/11 – The Namaste Care intervention to improve the quality of dying for people with advanced dementia living in care homes: A realist review and feasibility study for a cluster randomised controlled trial

Julie Kinley is a co-applicant on this study due to start later in 2016

Executive Summary and Research Information