Lead by Dr Gillian Stockwell-Smith from Griffith’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, the study aims to improve community service uptake and the wellbeing of people living with dementia during the early stages of the condition
She attributes the motivation behind the study to a lack in awareness of community services, describing it as “the lowest among care recipients and carers living with dementia.”
The study involved assessing the effects of a targeted psychosocial program, which was offered to 45 people to complete in their own home.
The program aimed to gather a greater understanding of these people’s lives. This included evaluating how they communicate with others, how they manage their lives as well as their attitudes towards forward planning, from both a physical care and financial perspective.
“The program sessions supported the identification and development of a sustainable support network. These are critical elements in empowering people with dementia and their carers in fostering appropriate identification of and access to support along their journey,” says Dr Stockwell-Smith.
Results showed that participants demonstrated a significant increase in the use of education, information services and support group services. Those who completed the program also sustained or increased uptake of home help/social support and transport services.
“We also saw in post-program evaluations, that participants expressed greater confidence in identifying and assessing community support and there was evidence of them expanding their caring network beyond the primary family carer.”
Dr Stockwell-Smith now intends to replicate the study with another group of participants with early-stage dementia within a memory clinic and general medical practice.
“It’s all about trying to improve and broaden people’s support networks in order to prepare them for their future care.”
Further details on other events held by Griffith University during September’s Dementia Awareness Month are available online.