In the study, within eight weeks, the "difficult" residents who had come into the program as self-centered, isolated and unconcerned individuals, began to show humor, compassion, initiative, and learned to care about themselves and others in the group. Residents stayed in the group as long as they could attend comfortably. Most residents made gains at the beginning of their participation in the group, but then progressively deteriorated as their dementia worsened their ability to participate. They were replaced by new members. The group expressed sorrow over the loss of old members, but welcomed new ones.
The residents did not practice their newly awakened social skills on the unit away from the supportive environment of the Tea Group. However, staff that attended the group, noticed positive changes at group, and learned to respect new aspects of the residents' personalities that they could enjoy. Some staff learned to facilitate use of skills observed in group to promote cooperation in daily care.
Staff members who had negative, unyielding, and defensive attitudes about "problem" residents did not benefit from the experience and were not invited back. Later, this type of staff person was left to absorb the positive feedback from other staff. There were subtle changes in behavior of staff that attended the program. They had come to appreciate the resident's life-time experiences, and had become aware of the large effect that environment and approach can have on a mentally impaired individual's abilities.