Caring for an older person at home can feel overwhelming at times, especially for carers who are cut off from support by language barriers.
The Social Gerontology team at the National Ageing Research Institute (NARI) is hoping to change that with an innovative project designed to put information at the fingertips of culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) carers.
The Drawing Out Care Study aims to support CALD family carers and people living with dementia using animations, digital fact sheets, and a multilingual chat-bot that can provide support at home, around the clock.
NARI Professor Bianca Brijnath says the new resources would build on the World Health Organization’s (WHO’s) iSupport Lite programme, and would be adapted to suit community needs in Australia.
“With about 30 per cent of older Australians being from a CALD background, increasingly from Asia, it is important to meet the needs of non-English speaking Australians with dementia and their carers,” Brijnath says.
“This will be a trial of completely digital resources, co-designed with community.
“We will be working with CALD family carers, clinicians, service providers, and people living with dementia, as well as our partners Dementia Australia, the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council of Australia, and the WHO, to adapt WHO resources for local audiences.
“The clinical and cost effectiveness of the intervention will then be evaluated in a trial with 194 Italian, Greek, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hindi, Tamil, Arabic, Vietnamese, and Spanish-speaking carers.”
The trial will measure whether targeted, multi-language resources can ease pressure on carers, improve their mood and quality of life, and improve the quality of the life for the person living with dementia.
“We know CALD carers experience 2.5 times more psychological distress than other carers in our community,” Brijnath explains.
“It’s not always an easy road and there are different challenges, including high expectations on family members to provide care, and on women to shoulder that load.
“This project will test resources that are simple and accessible, with a chat-bot helping users find exactly what they need.
“It will give carers support any time of the day or night, when they need it, in their language and in English.”
Newly funded by the Federal Government’s Medical Research Future Fund, the study aligns with the Dementia, Ageing and Aged Care Mission to “support family carers to deliver and sustain high-quality, culturally appropriate care at home to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their carers”.
The study outcomes will also be relevant for other countries where CALD carers face similar challenges, and could be directly disseminated to 12 Asia-Pacific nations, including India and China.
“The Drawing Out Care Study has the potential to impact millions of people in low, middle, and high income countries across the world.
“We simply must get better at ensuring every carer has the support they need, when they need it, and NARI is excited to see this project get off the ground,” Brijnath says.
The Drawing Out Care Study will be led by NARI, working with project partners Monash University, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, University College London, Flinders University, Dementia Australia,and Swinburne University of Technology.