In-home program promotes independence for the person with dementia and their carers


Outcomes from the CDPC implementation project that is delivering an occupational therapy and nursing intervention program to help people with dementia and their carers were recently discussed at a workshop in Sydney.

The intervention works to promote independence and determine practical individualised strategies for changed behaviours in the home environment.

The COPE (Care of People with Dementia in their Environments) Project has involved people with dementia, present and past carers of a person with dementia, researchers, and health professionals.

More than 60 attended the workshop to hear project lead investigator Professor Lindy Clemson and Dr Kate Laver present the results.

A total of 17 organisations and providers have implemented 88 COPE interventions over the course of the project, which also involved training of 38 Occupational therapists and nurses.

Alan Hislop, from the Hornsby Kur-ring-Gai area, shared his story of caring for his wife, Rosemary, who lived with a diagnosis of dementia for more than seven years and participating in the COPE project. “As a carer I felt like I was walking on egg shells” Trying to keep his wife safe and from others from getting frustrated with her actions.

“The Occupational Therapist provided valuable information that gave coping strategies, and discussions were valuable to share common experiences and ‘what worked for me.’”

COPE researcher, Miia Rahja, described some of the challenges of knowledge translation for interventions such as COPE. In a community survey, only 10 % of those interviewed understood what occupational therapy can offer for people with dementia and their carers. There is an identified need for public relations strategies to advocate for such programs.

Sustainability of a program like COPE was also discussed. How does COPE fit into existing services? Can it be funded through NDIS packages? Attendees from Hornsby Ku-ring gai Hospital, who have implemented the COPE program within the community, accessed community OTs through their memory clinics, who are funded through the public health system. Others have used home care and transitional care packages to support funding the program.

Initial outcome results will be available by April 2019 with in depth analysis of our qualitative data expected to take longer. Thus final resources and dissemination documents will be available in the latter half of the year. Training for occupational therapists and nurses will be offered in 2019 and will be sustained into the future by Master trainers Dr Kate Laver and Ms Sally Day.

Link to COPE webpage

Project team caption: Claire Spargo, Jennifer Culph, Dr Kate Laver, Miia Rahja, Professor Lindy Clemson, Sally Day and TBA (left to right)

COPE team