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Supporting family carers of people with dementia: A discrete choice experiment of public preferences

Background: Community-based care for people with dementia is mainly provided by family carers, many of whom experience decreased mental, physical and financial well-being due to their caring role. Many countries are now implementing ageing-in-place policies that have increased pressure on family carers as care-work is redistributed from residential to community-based settings. Family caring responsibilities for people with dementia are made even more complicated by the economic, social and cultural expectations that underpin existing provision. Support for family carers is, therefore, an important policy topic across many countries. Objectives: The focus of this paper is on the propensity of citizens to support enhanced care for family carers in Ireland, as demonstrated by their willingness-to-pay additional taxation to fund different combinations of carer support measures, developed through careful and sustained dialogue with multiple stakeholders, especially family carers themselves. Methods: We carried out a discrete choice experiment (DCE) with 509 members of the general public in Ireland between January and February 2021. Results: Using mixed logit models, our findings show that citizens value four key attributes: regular caring breaks for family carers (day-care and long-break respite); financial compensation (carer's allowance); and emotional support (carer peer support groups). We also estimated the welfare impact of moving from current provision to enhanced support packages for family carers of people with dementia. The welfare gains accumulate to €1035.80 for the most complete levels of provision across the four support attributes. Conclusions: Overall, respondents in this paper showed empathy and understanding towards family carers of people with dementia through their willingness to contribute to funding additional services and supports. 

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Social Science and Medicine
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