The World Health Organisation (WHO) iSupport for Dementia program supports carers of people with dementia, providing evidence-based online education and skills training.
The program is currently being adapted for the Australian context by Prof Lily Xiao (Flinders University), and Resthaven is proud to be a research partner.
Phase 2 of the project has now been underway for six months, with participants recently completing a set of online education modules that target carers’ learning needs throughout their caring journey.
Resthaven Project Officer and iSupport program facilitator, Tanae Ormsby, explains, ‘The facilitator activities in Phase 2 were directly shaped by the feedback received in Phase 1.’
‘In Phase 1, the research team worked with family carers and care service providers to co-design an innovative and complex intervention delivered by iSupport program facilitators.’
‘Carers were recruited after the completion of Phase 1, with the intake starting in September 2022 and continuing until June 2023. Overall, each carer’s journey is a year long, meaning that Phase 2 will be completed in June 2024,’ she says.
‘The first group of carers have reached the six-month mark of Phase 2, which involved completing the education modules and engaging in monthly Zoom meetings and weekly WhatsApp discussions for ongoing support.’
Tanae says, ‘As a facilitator, I can see how important checking in with the carer is, helping them to connect with support services such as Community Respite, Carer Support Groups, Social Support Groups and other support available.’
‘The next six months is less intensive — participants will individually use the modules to inform their caring role and will seek guidance when they require direct assistance.’
One carer says, ‘I really enjoyed reading the iSupport education modules and love the different examples they contain. It’s fantastic to chat with the other participants in our monthly Zoom meeting and hear their stories.’
‘I have a lot to think about when I am supporting my partner, who has dementia, so being able to read the information again reminds me of all the small things,’ she says.
Another carer says that she will continue to find the modules useful into the future: ‘I will read the education modules again because I need to reflect on all the changes we’ve experienced.’
Tanae says, ‘While every carer journey is different, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits to all participants, whether they’re at the start of their caring journey, or ten years in.’
‘Even for carers who have spent years caring for someone with dementia, the iSupport program provides evidence-based confirmation of what their caring role could look like.’
Comprising three phases, the iSupport program emphasises a holistic approach to identify interventions with stakeholders (Phase 1), test evidence-based care services (Phase 2) and translate knowledge into practice in a real-world setting (Phase 3).
Phase 3 will commence in June 2024, when it is envisaged that the program will be practiced by participating organisations and then disseminated across the country.
The iSupport project is funded by the Medical Research Future Fund 2020 Dementia Ageing and Aged Care Mission Grants, and the 2020 Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration (DCRC) World Class Research Projects.
Resthaven Community Services offer a variety of respite opportunities across 17 community sites, where people with dementia are supported by trained staff. With eight respite cottage locations around South Australia, respite services are widely accessible.