Development and Feasibility Evaluation of a Web-based Intervention for Family Carers of Persons with Dementia Residing in Long-Term Care

Read more about the project here.

Frail older adults residing in 24 hour care facilities have complex health needs. The majority of these adults have dementia. Family carers continue to provide care and support for their relatives/friends in care facilities. Unfortunately when their relative is admitted to a care facility, they experience major changes in their lives such as changes in their roles/relationships resulting in poor physical and mental health. They need support. To support family carers of persons with dementia in 24 hour care facilities, we developed an online intervention called My Tools 4 Care-In Care.

Using focus groups, we began by asking 9 family carers what they needed. We also consulted with an advisory committee and received feedback via surveys from 3 Directors of Covenant Health LTC facilities. Following feedback, My Tools 4 Care – In Care was developed. It is different from other online websites as there are activities for the carers to use, such as how to have hope each day, how to talk to staff, and how to deal with feelings of grief. It was then used by 37 family carers for two months. They were asked if it is easy to use, if they could use it and if they would use it. As well they were asked how happy they were with it.

Preliminary study findings suggest that My Tools 4 Care – In Care is easy to navigate, convenient to use, feasible, acceptable and participants were very happy with it. As well, the findings suggest that it has the potential to increase hope, and decrease loss and grief in family carers. We are now reviewing feedback received from participants and making revisions to improve MT4C-In Care. We are also planning the next steps for its broader use.

Wendy Duggleby, PhD, RN is a Professor and Endowed Nursing Research Chair in Aging and Quality of Life, in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Saskatchewan, her Master of Nursing at the University of Alberta, and her PhD in Nursing at the University of Texas-Houston Health Sciences Center. Her areas of research interest include gero-oncology, psychosocial oncology, family caregivers, palliative and end of life care. The goal of her research is to enhance quality of life for older adults and their families, and her program of research is entitled “Living with Hope.”

Laura Cottrell, PhD has worked in a variety of nursing roles as well as in nursing education, and currently works as a research assistant at the Cicely Saunders Institute of Palliative Care, King’s College London.  Her primary research interests are in ageing, palliative and end of life care, and qualitative methods. She received her PhD in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta, which is focused on exploring the experience of joy in hospice patients with advanced cancer.