A new approach to supporting informal caregivers of people with dementia

A new approach to supporting informal caregivers of people with dementia

Dementia is a complex medical condition often associated with challenging behaviours, also known as responsive behaviours, that can be stressful for caregivers. Caregivers frequently report a lack of education about how to effectively manage and cope with these behaviours in a manner respectful to the person living with dementia.

The Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick has partnered with Advanced Gerontological Education (AGE) Inc., Horizon Health Network, and the Maritime SPOR SUPPORT Unit (MSSU) to implement and evaluate Gentle Persuasive Approaches © (GPA) Community, a new educational program designed to support informal caregivers—family and friends—of persons living with dementia.

With funding from the Healthy Seniors Pilot Project, the team delivered the training to 38 informal caregivers and collected feedback on their satisfaction with training, caregiver burden, ability to manage responsive behaviours, and life satisfaction.

“A program like GPA Community gives care providers the hands-on tools they need to confidently provide care for the person with dementia,” said Chandra MacBean, Executive Director of the Alzheimer Society of New Brunswick. “Implementing and evaluating this program will help us to determine its impact on care provider stress and burnout and, ultimately, its potential to allow the person with the disease to live at home for longer.”

The GPA Community program builds on the original GPA program, an in-person training for formal caregivers of people with dementia that was shown to be effective among in hospital units and nursing homes.

In addition to be tailored for informal caregivers, GPA Community was offered online—a change accelerated by the pandemic. The evaluation will also access the impact online delivery has had on accessibility of the program.

The research team, which includes a Patient Partner, completed data collection in October 2021. The results will be used to inform the improvement and expansion of the GPA Community program in New Brunswick.

A new approach to supporting informal caregivers of people with dementia