The free, online program builds on the face-to-face Rethink Respite program, which was launched earlier this year in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven region and provides carers of people living with dementia with tailored support and a wealth of educational resources.
The new program includes educational support tools for carers, including a series of online goal setting and motivation building activities to help carers overcome personal and system barriers to using respite.
The online program will be taken at a time and place convenient to the carer with one-hour sessions taking place weekly over a ten-week period. Some participants will also receive online coaching with a qualified health professional or peer support in an online forum.
Dr Liz Cridland from UOW’s Australian Health Services Research Institute (AHSRI) said caring for a person living with dementia can be a positive experience, however, the challenges can cause feelings of frustration and exhaustion and many carers feel guilty about asking for support.
“There have been a lot of changes over the past two years in the way that respite services are delivered in Australia. This program will help carers navigate the system with more confidence and will also help them to ‘re-think’ how respite can support them and the person with dementia for whom they care,” Dr Cridland said.
The face-to-face component of the ReThink Respite program was conducted in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region earlier this year and was positively received by carers.
“We have received really positive feedback from the face-to-face program so far, and with this new online platform we will be able to reach a broader audience of carers that might not otherwise receive support,” Dr Cridland said.
“We know carers can benefit from respite but there have always been lots of barriers to its use. The new online project will provide an effective platform to provide more carers with education and support to use respite.”
Anyone who is a current carer of a person with dementia is eligible to participate (except those living in WA and VIC). Basic internet experience and access to the internet is required to access the online program.
For more information about the program visit: http://rethinkrespite.dementiaillawarra.com/online/
The research has been supported through a grant from the Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation.