The value of care provided by informal carers in Canada is estimated at $26 billion annually (Hollander et al., 2009). However, carers’ needs are often overlooked, limiting their capacity to provide care. Problem-solving therapy (PST), a structured approach to problem solving (PS) and a core principle of the Reitman Centre CARERS Program, has been shown to alleviate emotional distress and improve carers’ competence (Chiu et al., 2013). This study evaluated the effectiveness of problem-solving techniques-based intervention based on adapted PST methods, in enhancing carers’ physical and emotional capacity to care for relatives with dementia living in the community.
56 carers were equally allocated to a problem-solving techniques-based intervention group or a control arm. Carers in the intervention group received three 1 hr visits by a care coordinator (CC) who had been given advanced training in PS techniques-based intervention. Coping, mastery, competence, burden, and perceived stress of the carers were evaluated at baseline and post-intervention using standardized assessment tools. An intention-to-treat analysis utilizing repeated measures ANOVA was performed on the data.
Post-intervention measures completion rate was 82% and 92% for the intervention and control groups, respectively. Carers in the intervention group showed significantly improved task-oriented coping, mastery, and competence and significantly reduced emotion-oriented coping, burden and stress (p < 0.01–0.001). Control carers showed no change.
PS techniques, when learned and delivered by CCs as a tool to coach carers in their day-to-day caregiving, improves carers’ caregiving competence, coping, burden, and perceived stress. This may reduce dependence on primary, psychiatric, and institutional care. Results provide evidence that establishing effective partnerships between inter-professional clinicians in academic clinical health science centers, and community agencies can extend the reach of the expertise of specialized health care institutions.