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Establishing priorities for psychosocial supports and services among family carers of people with dementia in Ireland

Introduction: Many family carers, particularly those caring for people with dementia, report significant personal and social challenges associated with caring. The aim of this article is to identify the range of challenges experienced by family carers of people with dementia and to ascertain their preferences for various supports and services that address those challenges. Method: Three modified nominal group technique (NGT) focus groups were conducted with family carers of people with dementia. The NGT groups were conducted with 17 participants in two stages, focusing separately on personal and social domains. Family carers identified challenges and individually ranked preferences for both existing and new services and supports. Data analysis consisted of qualitative content analysis and summative scoring of individual rankings. Findings: Family carers identified the following personal-level challenges: needing a break, social isolation and relationship changes. Family carers’ combined preferences for personal-level supports and services to overcome these challenges were day care, family care support groups, short-term respite, long-break respite and social activities. Social challenges referenced by family carers included finances, rights and entitlements and stigma and awareness. Preferences for supports and services to address these social challenges were non–means-tested carer’s allowance, legal recognition, carer’s support grant, monthly wage and community awareness programmes. Conclusion: Participants ranked day care and non–means-tested carer’s allowance as their top priorities under personal and social headings. Increased government investment in these two areas would not only help to maintain family carers’ contributions to community-based care in dementia but would also facilitate social inclusion, social connectedness and economic sustainability. 

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