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Minister launches research project to care for the carers

Published:11 June 2018

TOP: Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM launching the program, MID: Anne Livingstone (Global Community Resourcing), Dr Carrie Peterson (e-gerontology consultant, Denmark), Assoc Prof Sonja Pedell (Swinburne), Dr Annie Banbury (Prevention First), Prof Denise Wood AM (CQUni), Prof Lynne Parkinson (CQUni), Minister Ken Wyatt AM, Graeme Noonan (carer), John Henley (carer), Karen Nixon (carer), Dr Steven Gordon. BELOW: Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM with Graeme Noonan (carer) and Vicki Noonan (wife living with dementia).

Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt AM has this week (Monday 11 June) launched an innovative national research project that aims to assess the effectiveness of technology in supporting carers of people with dementia.

Launched in Brisbane, the CQUniversity-led Caring for Carers project is a free six-week program that uses video conferencing to connect primary carers of people living with dementia.

The program is of particular interest to people living in regional, rural and remote areas who may have difficulty in accessing services.

Through a partnership with Global Community Resourcing and Prevention First, the program will allow carers to share their experiences, provide peer support and receive information on the issues that impact them on a daily basis.

Program participants will attend weekly meetings lasting for about one hour, to discuss issues such as navigating the health and social care systems, being an advocate and caring for the carer.

Lead researcher for the project, Professor Lynne Parkinson, explained that the key aim is to assess whether video conferencing is an effective tool in helping carers to access support, build resilience and overcome challenges.

“Caring for someone with dementia can be extremely challenging and often a very lonely and isolating experience.

“We want to establish a virtual network for carers, so they can connect with their peers to talk about these challenges and access valuable support and advice,” said Professor Parkinson.

“The project will be run in six weekly intervals with up to eight participants in each session.

“Our previous research has shown that video conferencing is easy to use and can bring people together in the comfort of their home,” said Professor Parkinson.

“As part of the project we will also provide trained support to help people using video conferencing technology for the first time.”

Professor Parkinson also explained that, despite carers already facing a number of pressures and time constraints, the program is designed specifically to act as a support mechanism to help make life easier.

“We are very aware of the pressures carers face - many are performing their duty on top of other commitments such as work or raising a family - but we have designed this program in order to help people deal with these challenges more effectively.

“All participants need to do is commit to a weekly session and engage in the conversation.

“Participants will find value in this approach as each session has been structured based on co-designing the program with carers, so as to provide participants with the information and tools they need,” said Professor Parkinson.

The first six-week program as part of the project is now underway but the research team is looking for more people to sign-up. In particular, they are looking for primary carers who feel isolated.

Six-weekly programs will be held throughout the remainder of this year and during 2019.

There is no cost to participate in the program but those interested will need to have access to a reliable internet connection.

For more information, or to enrol in the program please visit www.cqu.edu.au/caringforthecarers.