An eight-week course which provides education, stress relief and emotional support for dementia carers is the first cost-effective programme to reduce anxiety and depression for two years.
This is according to new research presented today (Wednesday 16 July 2014) at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC).
The study of 260 family caregivers, led by Gill Livingston, University College London, found that the START (STrAtegies for RelaTives) programme reduced caregiver’s anxiety and depression, with benefits lasting for at least two years. This eight-week course delivered by psychology graduates included education about dementia, caregiver stress, and where to get emotional support, as well as techniques for managing challenging behaviours of people with dementia. The cost of delivering the course was no more expensive than standard care given to the control group, showing that this intervention is a cost-effective way to improve the mental health and well-being of carers.
With funding from Lloyds Banking Group, trained Alzheimer’s Society staff also provide a two-tier programme for carers called the Carer Information and Support Programme (CrISP), which aims to improve the knowledge, skills and understanding of those caring for a person with dementia by providing effective support, up-to-date evidence-based information and peer support. This programme is unique in offering a first course tailored to help carers supporting someone with a recent diagnosis, and a second which focuses on covering issues that arise once dementia progresses.
Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research and Development at Alzheimer’s Society said:
‘It is great to see research focusing on improving the well-being of dementia carers whilst other scientists search for treatments and a cure. Too often people forget the profound effect dementia has on loved ones caring for someone with with the illness and surrounding friends and family. There are 670,000 people caring for someone with dementia in the UK and these carers save the economy a staggering £8bn a year.
‘If results like these were found with a new drug, it would be hailed a breakthrough. This programme gives us an effective way to support carers and reduce depression and anxiety, which will have the added benefit of improving life for those that they care for. With so few routes for care interventions like these to be implemented, Alzheimer’s Society is delighted to now be funding the delivery of this training on a larger scale.’