ReThink Respite Online

ReThink Respite Online

Investigating the efficacy of an online intervention aiming to increasing respite use amongst carers of people with dementia: Roles of motivational enhancement and professional delivery

Dementia Research Foundation
Duration: March 2016 - March 2017


Despite the established benefits of respite, many carers of people with dementia are reluctant to use or are unaware of services or strategies which may provide them respite from their caring role. The ReThink Respite Online Project aimed to address the barriers to respite use by developing an online education and support program for carers of people with dementia.

What we did

The online program was developed from the ReThink Respite project run in the Illawarra Shoalhaven region during 2016. Project resources included 10 education modules in an email format, online ‘coaching space’ (using the Adobe Connect platform), and a tailored website which featured an online discussion forum, ‘respite experiences’ videos, and various tools and resources for participants. All project resources were reviewed by current carers of people with dementia to confirm their relevance and suitability.

The project used an experimental design to compare the efficacy of two online interventions, which included a group receiving the education modules with online coaching sessions with a health professional; a group receiving the education modules with access to an online discussion forum with other carers; and a control group (i.e. receiving the education modules only).

In total, 43 participants enrolled in the program and were randomly allocated into two intervention groups. Results indicate increased use of respite use following completion of the program for groups. This finding was across various forms of respite including day centres, in-home services, residential respite, informal respite, respite strategies, and carer support groups.

However, despite the increased use of respite, the majority of carers reported a preference to receive more respite than they were currently receiving. Results showed the coaching group were more confident in organising respite services, but were more worried that using respite may lead to negative outcomes for the person with dementia. Together, these results suggest ongoing limitations with some respite services currently provided in Australia. 

Last reviewed: 18 May, 2018

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