AIMS: To evaluate the validity of the COPE index (CI) carer assessment tool within a study exploring perceptions of carer support, health, and wellbeing. To assess the utility and acceptability of the CI with health practitioners and informal carers of people with dementia, following the European COPE protocol.
METHODS: Research interviews (one pre- and two post-CI assessment) recorded demographic characteristics of carer (n = 45) and care recipient, formal (service) and informal support use and satisfaction, self-reported health, the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ-30), Burden Interview, Caregiver Competence, and Personal Gain. COPE Index assessment was undertaken by referring health practitioners (n = 12).
RESULTS: Construct validity of the CI compared positively with findings reported in the literature. Psychological morbidity in carers (33%) was often undiagnosed; 19% of carers presented a more positive perception of their health to the health practitioner than to the researcher; diagnosis of care recipients was not always clear to carers (25%). COPE Index assessment improved both communication and understanding of carers' needs and was evaluated positively by most carers and health practitioners.
CONCLUSIONS: The COPE Index is an easily administered and generally acceptable tool that may be useful for initiating more comprehensive assessment of dementia carers' needs.