Deborah Brooks

Bereavement without death: Improving psychosocial support of family carers of people with dementia who have moved into residential aged care

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Award
2015 AADRF - Dementia Collaborative Research Centre Consumer Priority Half-funded PhD Scholarship
Project Snapshot

Placing a relative with dementia into residential care has been described by carers as being amongst the most difficult and stressful times of their lives. Many experience a range of feelings such as stress, anxiety, guilt, grief and loss. Some have reported the separation to be ‘bereavement without death’. However most formal supports for carers end once the person has been admitted into care. Although the need for ongoing support for carers has been highlighted by researchers and carers alike, there is currently little research evidence as to what would be most effective. This study aims to: a) gain an in-depth understanding of the support needs of carers of people with dementia following residential care placement, and b) develop and test the effectiveness of a psychosocial intervention to improve the psychological health and emotional well-being of family carers during this time.

Detailed Project Summary

This project aims to develop and pilot a psychosocial intervention to support family carers of people with dementia following residential care placement. A multiple stage design, including both qualitative and quantitative components, will be used based on the Medical Research Council guidance for complex intervention development and evaluation. Specifically the study will consist of:  a) a systematic literature review to determine the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions on the psychological health and emotional well-being of carers of people with dementia following residential care placement; b) a qualitative study to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues facing carers once their relative has moved into residential care and the most appropriate strategies to support their needs; c) the development of a theoretically-based intervention based on the findings of the systematic review, qualitative study and in consultation with experts in the field including carers of people with dementia; d) a pilot intervention study to test feasibility of participant recruitment and retention, feasibility of intervention delivery and data collection, acceptability of the intervention to carers, and preliminary effects on outcomes such as carer depression, stress, grief, quality of life and satisfaction with the care of the person living with dementia.

Where are they now?

Ms Brooks is currently enrolled as a PhD candidate at the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre, Queensland University of Technology.