Susan Slatyer

Meeting the support needs of family carers of people living with dementia in the community: Potential translation into practice

Susan Slatyer
2015 AADRF Project Grant
Project Snapshot

Family carers of people with dementia can experience significant stress and consequent poor health. The Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool is a questionnaire that is used within the context of a person-centred approach. The approach was developed for use in palliative care to help family carers identify and prioritise their needs and access appropriate support. In a recent trial in home-based palliative care, use of this approach resulted in a significant reduction in carer strain. This project aims to translate the approach for use in home-based care for people with dementia. Community care coordinators from one aged-care provider are implementing the approach with 35 family carers. Family carers’ and care providers’ perspectives are being evaluated. If found to be useful, this innovative practice change offers a novel way for community-based health care providers to engage with family carers of people with dementia and empower them to sustain their caregiving role.

Detailed Project Summary

Family carers provide significant support for people with dementia who live at home. The 14-item Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) uses a person-centred approach to enable carers to consider, articulate and prioritise their needs in the caregiving role. As needs are identified, care providers can then link carers with appropriate resources. Originally developed in the palliative context, the CSNAT approach involves a) introducing the CSNAT to the carer; b) allowing the carer reflection time; c) an assessment conversation; d) a shared action plan; and e) a shared review. This project aims to determine if the CSNAT approach is feasible for use in home-based care to support family carers of people living with dementia. Community care coordinators in one aged-care provider are implementing the CSNAT approach with 35 family carers of home-based clients with dementia. The CSNAT approach is being used on two occasions, 5-weeks apart, during usual visits with each family carer. Quantitative methods are being used to capture characteristics of family carers, CSNAT completions, and supportive interventions. Qualitative interviews with family carers and care providers are exploring feasibility, acceptability and perceived effectiveness of the CSNAT approach in routine care.

Where are they now?

Dr Slatyer is a Research Fellow in the School of Nursing, Midwifery and Paramedicine, Curtin University and Centre for Nursing Research, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Dr Slatyer was named 2016 Nurse of the Year and winner of the 2016 Excellence in Research Award in the Western Australian Nursing and Midwifery Excellence Awards held in Perth in May 2016.