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Testing a new model of social support for carers                              


A new research project is investigating the potential of videoconferencing as a tool to combat isolation among carers of people with dementia.

The study by Central Queensland University will see small groups of primary carers take part in weekly video chat groups to facilitate social support and share information.

The project builds on previous research that demonstrated the effectiveness of video-based peer support groups for people with chronic conditions.

“The program is about connecting isolated carers to each other to positively influence their caring experience,” project manager Atosha Clancy said.

The research project will evaluate the impact of the video-based chat groups on the self-efficacy, quality of life and mental health of rural, regional and remote carers.

Rather than having a clinical or therapeutic focus, the groups are designed to build social networks and are run by experienced facilitators over a six-week program.

“During the caregiving period, social and emotional support from family and friends plays an important role in sustaining caregiving activities.

“Postcare, these social networks facilitate adjustment to role change and dealing with grief.”

However, in rural Australia, knowledge and take up of support for informal carers is lacking, she said.

“A focus of the project is to use off-the-shelf technology which will be more accessible than specialised bespoke solutions that are currently popular in this area of research,” she told Community Care Review.

The project, which is adopting a co-design approach, is using group videoconferencing technology called Zoom.

The social support groups commence in April and run until June next year.

The national project received a Dementia and Aged Care Services fund grant from the Federal Government and is aiming to recruit 180 carers of older people with dementia. Carers for the study will be recruited through community health and care providers.

Carers will need to be connected to the internet to participate.

Carers and service providers who are interested in finding out more about the Caring for Carers of People with Dementia Project can email or phone the project manager Atosha Clancy at carers@cqu.edu.au or 0437 579 695.

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