Protected Engagement Time for people with dementia

A preliminary comparison of wards for people with dementia using patient engagement time (PET) with other wards delivering standard care alone.

Protected Engagement Time (PET) is an initiative, developed in acute psychiatry that has been adopted by some dementia wards in England over the past few years. The purpose is to help ward staff spend uninterrupted time with patients by reorganising routines so that interpersonal relationships between staff and patients are at the heart of ward practice. It is expected that, through this intervention, patients will experience less distress and, subsequently, less tranquillising medication will be prescribed. To date, there is no robust evidence to determine whether PET is of benefit to patients and/or staff.

This study aims to establish whether PET makes a difference to staff and patients on wards and the best methods of implementing it. It will look in depth at what happens on wards with PET, comparing this to activity and outcomes on wards without PET.


The study has four modules:

Module 1: development of a fidelity scale for PET

Module 2: study of wards where PET is used, compared to wards where is not. This module will be divided into four sections:

  • Section 1: comparison of patients’ views experiences between PET and non-PET wards
  • Section 2: comparison of family/carers' views of PET and non-PET wards
  • Section 3: comparison of staff views and experiences between PET and non-PET wards
  • Section4: comparison of contact and interactions between staff and patients on PET and non-PET wards

Module 3: an in-depth case study evaluation of the three of the five participating PET wards

Module 4: a national telephone survey of dementia wards in England to map provision of PET as part of inpatient care for people with dementia in England

The study will take place over 22 months, in collaboration with 3 Mental Health Trusts and two other Universities:

The study is government funded, via the National Institute for Health Research's Research for Patient Benefit Programme (RfPB) and has received ethical and R&D approval.

For more information about the study, contact Prof Richard Cheston, Chief Investigator or Emily Dodd, Study Coordinator on +44 (0)117 32 88401.

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