ReThink Respite

The development and trial of an innovative community based Respite Action Intervention for carers of people with dementia

Resthaven Dementia Research Award from Alzheimer’s Australia Dementia Research Foundation

Duration: January 2015 – January 2017


Provision of respite is consistently identified by carers of People Living with Dementia (PLD) as one of their critical unmet care needs, yet only a small proportion use available respite and other support programs. ReThink Respite was a community intervention which aimed to improve knowledge about, attitudes toward, and uptake of, respite services for PLD and their carers, in the Illawarra-Shoalhaven community. Additionally, it worked to improve the capacity of the local service system to promote and provide flexible respite services, and understand the impact of current disability and aged care reforms on respite use in the region.

What we did

Formative research included 31 consultations conducted with service providers, carers and carer support groups, health professionals, researchers and government organisations involved in providing care and services for PLD and their carers. Findings informed the development of materials and resources for the ReThink Respite intervention, which was launched in February 2016.

The intervention provided informational and navigational resources for PLD and their carers, respite service providers, and those promoting access to respite services throughout the Illawarra and Shoalhaven. Resources focused on respite benefits and types of services, how to choose appropriate respite, and finding local and appropriate services. These resources were distributed through a customised ReThink Respite website (, which is a companion to the Dementia Illawarra website (, and 21 separate presentations (to n=337) to Carer Support Groups, community groups, Primary Health Care Nurses, Aged Care Assessment Teams, Regional Assessment Teams and respite service providers. Promotion of respite as part of positive caregiving was supported by a communications campaign including TV news, aged sector news, community radio, community events, website blogs, Twitter feeds and participant newsletters.

Individualised support for PLD and their carers was offered via ‘ReThink Respite Coaching’, a goal orientated program developed specifically for the project and delivered by health professionals in the participants’ homes.

The ReThink Respite intervention targeted service development through two workshops for service providers which focused on providing information about the features of quality respite services for PLD and their carers, tools to audit the quality of their service, and brainstorming activities to identify strategies for improving quality and flexibility in respite services.

The ReThink Respite project is currently being evaluated using a logic model incorporating a pre and post intervention survey of carers of PLD throughout the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions, and substantial process evaluation data. A final report is due to be completed March 2017.

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Dr Lyn Phillipson

Last reviewed: 22 March, 2017

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