Research nurses developing dementia support for family carers

Research nurses are calling for more volunteers to take part in a study that is aiming to bring a pioneering support programme for family carers of people living with dementia to the UK.

Researchers at the University of East Anglia, University of Exeter and Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are working to co-develop and test a support package for families impacted by the condition.

CareCoach, which originated in the Netherlands, aims to help family carers stay emotionally and physically well, and to support them to look after the person they are caring for.

“We want to help carers improve their quality of life, mood and sense of being able to care well”

Chris Fox

The programme uses face-to-face sessions, a web-based home programme and support from a coach to help people adapt to changes in their relatives, and any emotional difficulties associated with dementia.

Work to bring this programme to the UK has been backed by £2m in funding from the National Institute for Health Research.

Researchers are currently undertaking a study with family carers of people with dementia to make sure that the research and CareCoach programme is accessible and meets the needs of all kinds of families.

An advisory group of family carers regularly meets online with researchers to talk about how the study is going and to provide valuable insights into the realities of being a carer of a person living with dementia.

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Juniper West, research development lead for older people’s services at Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, called on more people to take part.

She said: “In 2018-19, our research team identified training and support for informal caregivers for people with dementia as a priority, so CareCoach addresses very important, locally expressed needs.

“If you are a family carer, we want to hear your opinions,” sh said. “The advisory group warmly welcomes new members, from all backgrounds, family relationships and walks of life.”

Those who sign up to take part in the study will be paid £25 an hour for their time. The project is being led by Professor Chris Fox, from Norwich Medical School.

He said: “We know that family carers provide significant support for people with dementia and it’s really important they get the right support.

“We want to help carers improve their quality of life, mood and sense of being able to care well.”

Previous research has shown that intervening early to support carers can build personal resilience and increase their ability to cope.

The Netherlands project has reduced the burden and stress of caring for a family member or friend with dementia.

Professor Fox added: “We are working with family carers and healthcare professionals to develop and test our new blended care approach to really make sure it works in real life.”

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