Objective: To investigate how informal carers of community dwelling persons with dementia value the Meeting Centers Support Programme (MCSP) for people with dementia and their carers, including the carer support activities, such as informative meetings, discussion groups and individual consultation, and to explore if characteristics of the carers are related to their satisfaction with and effectiveness of the support programme.
Methods: Participants were 71 informal carers of persons with mild to severe dementia who participated in the MSCP. Beside background characteristics, after 7 months of participation, a questionnaire was administered to the carers to investigate their satisfaction with the entire support programme and the different support activities offered to the carers. To measure the effectiveness of the MCSP in carers, before and after 7 months of participation in the MCSP interviews were held with regard to different outcome measures, i.e.: psychological and psychosomatic complaints, feeling of competence, experienced burden, and institutionalisation of the person with dementia.
Results: The large majority of carers were satisfied with the entire support programme (91,6%) as well as with each of the support activities offered to the carers. Several carer characteristics, such as lower age, longer duration of caregiving and higher degree of social support, were related to a more positive evaluation of the support programme. Characteristics that were related to the effect measures were loneliness, duration of caregiving, financial expenditure and formal support before starting the programme.
Conclusion: This exploratory study demonstrated that the satisfaction of carers with the MCSP, including the carer support activities, and the effectiveness of the support offered were related to characteristics of the carers. Thus it seems relevant to continue the evaluation of different types of support for carers on a larger scale and in different settings, to get insight into the relation between carer characteristics, the satisfaction with support activities and the effectiveness of the support offered.
Insight into these relations may contribute to more effective and efficient support of carers of persons with dementia.