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Study focuses on new digital resource for carers of people with dementia

young carer with elderly woman
5th November 2020 about a 2 minute read

An online training resource developed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) for family and friends supporting people with dementia is to be assessed for use in the UK.

The iSupport self-help tool can be used by carers on a computer, a tablet or a smartphone. It is also available as a printed manual.

The resource aims to prevent or decrease mental health problems and improve quality of life for those who care for people with dementia. 

iSupport covers a range of topics including:

  • General information about dementia
  • Information targeted at carers
  • Self-care
  • Caring for a person with dementia
  • Addressing symptoms of dementia.

The tool can be adapted to national or local needs. Carers can choose to work through all the modules consecutively or select those most relevant to them. 

Carers receive feedback as they work through each exercise.

Professor Gill Windle is leading the international research team from the School of Health Sciences, Bangor University.

She said the evaluation would look at the costs and benefits of the initiative and how effective it is in reducing distress.

Young carers

One focus for the work is young carers aged 11-17, an area lead by Dr Patricia Mastersen-Algar. 

She commented: “There are currently no evidence-based support interventions for young carers of people with dementia. 

“So the team will work with a group of young carers and adapt iSupport for their use.

“We want to identify what outcomes are most important to them and assess this new version of iSupport with 30 young carers.”

Faaiza Bashir, Policy Research and Engagement Manager for Carers Trust Wales, added: “Unpaid carers provide vital practical and emotional support to thousands of people across Wales every day.”

Illustration of carer and elderly man
"The hope is that iSupport will provider carers with skills and confidence, and access to knowledge, to provide them with the tools to maintain their own health and well-being.” Faaiza Bashir, Carers Trust Wales

The research, involving 365 dementia carers across Wales, England and Scotland, is a joint project between: Bangor University, University College London and the University of Strathclyde with the WHO, Carers Trust Wales, Alzheimer’s Scotland and Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

For more information see the NIHR  Funding and Awards website