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Meeting carers' needs with well deserved 'break'

New research is expected to assist in developing a better understanding of 'respite' in the care of people with dementia, ultimately improving outcomes for older people and their carers.
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L-R: Researcher, Dr Lyn Phillipson; Resthaven chief executive, Richard Hearn; Resthaven executive manager workforce development, Wendy Morey; and Alzheimer's Australia's, Dr Alison Kevan.

Head researcher, Dr Lyn Phillipson, the successful awardee of the $150,000 Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation - Resthaven Dementia Research Award, travelled to Adelaide recently to present her respite Intervention research proposal to South Australian not for profit aged and community care provider, Resthaven.

Dr Phillipson is the associate director of the Centre for Health Initiatives, and a senior lecturer at the University of Wollongong. She has a background as a physiotherapist, adult educator and social researcher, and has a decade of experience as a member of a metropolitan Aged Care Assessment Team (ACAT).

Resthaven chief executive, Richard Hearn, says the team was delighted to welcome Dr Phillipson to Adelaide to outline her research proposal to key Resthaven staff and to orientate her to the range of services offered by Resthaven.

Dr Phillipson visited several sites, including some of Resthaven's community based respite services.

"Resthaven is committed to supporting relevant research that has benefits for older people. We see it as part of our social responsibility and adding value to the Australian community," Mr Hearn says.

The research, titled Respite Action Intervention for carers of people with Dementia (RAID), will add to previous doctoral research undertaken through the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation.

Dr Alison Kevan, manager of Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation, presented Dr Phillipson with the Resthaven Dementia Research Award. She also presented Wendy Morey, Resthaven executive manager workforce development, with a certificate of appreciation to acknowledge Resthaven’s contribution to supporting Australian dementia research.

Ms Morey says: "Resthaven is pleased to sponsor this research grant, which aims to further the understanding of how respite services are utilised by carers of people with dementia. We hope it will contribute to improved uptake of the available respite services and lead to ways to break down barriers to accessing it."

"We are confident that Dr Phillipson’s research will assist in improving outcomes for older people and their carers. Using a consumer driven approach, the research will lead to a better understanding of respite utilisation in the care of people with dementia.

"Dr Phillipson’s professional expertise and her keen interest in identifying ways to improve the service system has the potential to benefit people with dementia and their carers across the nation."

Dr Phillipson describes the research as an "innovative, multi component community intervention that aims to improve carer knowledge about, attitudes toward and uptake of respite services to meet carer needs for ‘more than just a break’".

The research project will be conducted in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven area in New South Wales, where Dr Phillipson is based. Here, she will develop, trial and evaluate the impact of RAID on respite knowledge, attitudes, and usage of respite services among carers of people with dementia.

The project aims to determine how to improve carer knowledge of local respite services, promote positive carer attitudes towards the benefits of respite services, increase uptake of respite services by those with perceived and measured need and enhance general practitioner and practice nurse knowledge and referral of carers to respite services.

The Respite Action Intervention for carers of people with Dementia (RAID) research will commence this year.

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