An Evaluation of Two Caregiver Support Group Programs
Award Date: 2017
Project Lead(s): Renee Climans, Social Worker
Project Title: Combined Model of Caregiver Support and Care Recipient Engagement
What is the issue?
Caregivers of individuals with dementia have similar needs and concerns. Support groups may provide them with emotional support and help them with the challenges of caregiving.
What did we do?
We evaluated two support group programs called The Changing Relationship, and The Road to Connection. Both programs were designed for couples consisting of a partner caring for a spouse living with dementia. The Changing Relationship offered an in-person, support group for caregivers where they shared their experiences with others facing similar issues. The Road to Connection built on this concept and added a separate activity group for spouses with dementia. They took part in art and brain health activities for improving memory that were developed by experts at Baycrest. Both programs took place weekly for ten weeks. Two social workers led each caregiver session. An artist and a social worker led the arts and brain health sessions.
What did we find?
Caregivers were very satisfied with the programs. They learned some helpful coping strategies and made improvements to their health, including increasing their physical, social, and cognitive activities. They benefitted from hearing about their peers’ experiences and felt less isolated. They all said they would recommend the program to friends and that they would participate longer if follow-up sessions were offered.