During my time in Australia, from 2009-2013, prof Daniel O’Connor, dr Cameron Camp, myself and a varying team of Monash University researcher worked on three scientific studies regarding the Montessori method.

Our studies focusing on people with advanced dementia, living in long term facilities, showed the following effect of the introduction of Montessori activities:

-a large reduction in misunderstood (physical) behavior;

-an almost similar reduction in these behavior following the introduction of ‘normal’ visits;

-large increases in positive affect, interest and active engagement, also compared to ‘normal’ visits.

van der Ploeg ES, Eppingstall B, Camp CJ, Runci SJ, O’Connor DW. Personalized one-to-one intervention in agitated individuals with dementia: responders versus non-responders. J Gerontol Nurs. 2015 Mar;41(3):22-9. doi: 10.3928/00989134-20141008-01. Epub 2014 Oct 15.

van der Ploeg ES, O’Connor DW. Evaluation of personalised, one-to-one interaction using Montessori-type activities as a treatment of challenging behaviours in people with dementia: the study protocol of a crossover trial. BMC Geriatr. 2010 Jan 24;10:3. doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-10-3.

van der Ploeg ES, Eppingstall B, Camp CJ, Runci SJ, Taffe J, O’Connor DW. A randomized crossover trial to study the effect of personalized, one-to-one interaction using Montessori-based activities on agitation, affect, and engagement in nursing home residents with Dementia. Int Psychogeriatr. 2013 Apr;25(4):565-75. doi: 10.1017/S1041610212002128.

We implemented Montessori activities with long term care volunteers. They were able and usually enthused to perform these activities with someone with dementia. Volunteers who had more knowledge and a more positive attitude before entering the studies, reported more joy and success when doing the activities.

van der Ploeg ES, Mbakile T, Genovesi S, O’Connor DW. The potential of volunteers to implement non-pharmacological interventions to reduce agitation associated with dementia in nursing home residents. Int Psychogeriatr. 2012 Nov;24(11):1790-7. doi: 10.1017/S1041610212000798.

Van der Ploeg ES, Walker H, O’Connor DW. The feasibility of volunteers facilitating personalized activities for nursing home residents with dementia and agitation. Geriatr Nurs. 2014 Mar-Apr;35(2):142-6. doi: 10.1016/j.gerinurse.2013.12.003.

Lastly, we have studied the implementation by family members of long term care residents. Again, we saw large effects on the affect and engagement of the residents: even larger than when we as researchers performed the Montessori activities. Family carers reported more positive visits, especially experiencing more control in making those visits enjoyable/

van der Ploeg ES, Camp CJ, Eppingstall B, Runci SJ, O’Connor DW. The study protocol of a cluster-randomised controlled trial of family-mediated personalised activities for nursing home residents with dementia. BMC Geriatr. 2012 Jan 12;12:2. doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-12-2.

I have also co-authored scientific publications describing the use of lavender, Skype, an interactive interface, spaced retrieval and bright light therapy with people with dementia. You can find more details on my publications on Pubmed or my profile on Researchgate.