Professor Elizabeth Beattie
Speaking during Dementia Awareness Week 2011, DCRC-CC director Professor Elizabeth Beattie said results of the national respite care survey of more than 330 carers of people with dementia were still being analysed; however preliminary findings were both positive and critical of aspects of existing respite services.
“The majority of people caring for a family member with dementia told us they had accessed respite services to give them a little time off from this difficult task,” she said.
“They found it a welcome break and were grateful for the respite services that are already provided throughout the country.”
Professor Beattie said they had identified some issues which stopped carers from accessing respite services, including the short time frames that were available for in-home and centre-based respite care, the lack of respite opportunities on weekends and holidays, and the issue of staff in residential facilities not always being trained to provide appropriate person-centred dementia care.
The study aimed to influence the real world practice of health professionals and ultimately make respite services more “user friendly”.
“Dementia is a devastating, degenerative brain disease but much can be done to improve the quality of life of the more than 300,000 Australians living with dementia and those who care for them,” she said.
Professor Beattie is also working on a different research project with QUT’s Professor Michael Kimlin examining Vitamin D deficiency in dementia patients and their carers.
She said the research will help carers become more aware of how diet and sun exposure affect Vitamin D health.
“Busy carers and people with dementia may not get outside as much as is optimal. Vitamin D is particularly important for bone health and the prevention of falls and fractures,” she said.
“Participants found to have low Vitamin D levels will be advised to seek help from their own doctor to correct the situation.”
Pairs (a person with dementia and their carer) living in Brisbane or within 100 km of the city are required for the study, which involves a one-hour home visit at a negotiated time, a simple blood sample taken from each person’s hand or forearm and the completion of a survey about their diets and sun exposure.
Those interested in taking part can contact project director Dr Maria O’Reilly at QUT, telephone 3138 3057 or email [email protected]
The DCRC-CC is one of three Dementia Collaborative Research Centres established with Australian Government funding under the government initiative Dementia: A National Health Priority.
For more information go to www.dementiaresearch.org.au
Media contact: Michaela Ryan, QUT media officer, 07 3138 4494 or [email protected]