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Family matters: survey finds relatives want role in acute care

New Australian research has found the need for an increased focus on family members who are carers for people with dementia across acute-care settings.

The study, funded by the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre: Carers and Consumers, found the family should be a bigger resource for improving communication and the care of people in this group.

Lead author professor Wendy Moyle, from Griffith University’s Menzies Health Institute Queensland, said, “Many of the families we interviewed believed their role was to provide emotional and physical support to their family member; however, they felt there was often a barrier to providing this support, with medical and nursing staff often unaware of the needs of the older patient with dementia."

Moyle said family members felt they could be valued members of the team because often they’ve looked after the person with dementia for a number of years. “They know about their needs, they know when they might be requiring some extra care or something that might allay their fears, but staff didn’t seem to understand that,” Moyle explained.

One of the family members interviewed commented: “They rush you and push you too much … and you can’t really get any good response off them.”

Moyle said given the potential of family carers to enhance the experience of the person with dementia, improving the knowledge of family carer involvement during an episode of acute care hospitalisation is a priority.

She said the study indicated that family carers want to be involved in the acute care of their loved one and that the time is ripe for targeted family involvement.

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