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Breaking through dementia barriers, improving support for informal carers


Flinders University has undertaken a pioneering research project in Australia to enhance the quality of life and support for informal carers of people living with dementia.

With a generous grant of over $1.5 million from the Australian Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council, this initiative aims to address the challenges faced by informal carers from culturally diverse backgrounds, who often experience high levels of stress and social isolation.

Led by Professor Lily Xiao, an internationally recognised researcher in dementia caregiving from the Flinders College of Nursing and Health Sciences, the project will trial a culturally tailored “iSupport model.” This innovative approach takes into consideration the specific cultural needs, preferred language and access to the Australian healthcare system of carers.

Professor Xiao emphasises that many informal carers lack accessible resources and information in their preferred language to adequately care for their family members with dementia. Structural discrimination frequently prevents these carers from accessing necessary care services, dementia education and social support.

Informal dementia caregivers from culturally and linguistically diverse groups face numerous challenges, including unmet care needs, uncontrolled chronic conditions, complications, low quality of life, avoidable hospital admissions and high costs to the health and social care systems.

The research project will incorporate the iSupport program, developed and endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO), into routine dementia care services. The program will provide support not only in English but also in seven non-English languages, including Mandarin, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Bahasa, Greek, Italian and Spanish. More language versions will be added in the future.

By implementing the culturally tailored iSupport model, the research team aims to bring about a paradigm shift in the current system, leading to improved health and quality of life for both caregivers and their families.

Collaborating with researchers from Flinders University and Western Sydney University, the project also involves partnerships with prominent organisations such as the Australian Nursing Home Foundation, Bolton Clarke, Chinese Australian Services Society, Community Access and Services, Greek Orthodox Community, Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District and the Society of Saint Hilarion.

This ambitious research project offers hope for breaking down cultural barriers and providing much-needed support to informal carers within culturally diverse communities. Its ultimate goal is to contribute to improved dementia care in Australia, fostering a better quality of life for both carers and those living with dementia.

Related: The sandwich generation dilemma: Jane Morrell sheds light on the challenges of balancing care

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.


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