Recent studies have provided promising findings about the impact of psychosocial interventions for older adult carers and carers of people with dementia. The aim of this report was to add to the substantive knowledge base by combining search criteria used by Pinquart and Sörensen (2006) and Gallagher-Thompson and Coon (2007) to update the literature on psychological interventions for carers of people with dementia published between 2005 and 2011.
Several suggestions for future research were made, including additional UK-based high quality studies in this field, a greater focus on the impact of counselling/psychotherapy with carers of people with dementia, and further studies that explore mediators and moderators within psychological interventions.
In March, the Department of Health published the document Prime Minister's challenge on dementia: Delivering major improvements in dementia care and research by 2015, within this document there is the following action:
"Carers have the right to be assessed and their needs met. In addition we know carers can take their support as a personal budget and they are encouraged to do so. The NHS should also ensure that a range of psychological therapies are commissioned and made available to carers of people with dementia in line with NICE/SCIE guidelines, as well as ensuring services are made available to support the couple relationship where one person is caring for a partner with dementia".
This action from the Prime Minister fits in with the findings of the review that "psychological interventions can provide meaningful change" and that "multicomponent and technology based interventions that use a combination of individual and group sessions are effective". As also indicated by the Prime Minister, the BACP systematic review recommends that "the commissioning strategy attached to the National Dementia Strategy should consider technology based interventions as a support for carers of people with dementia".
In support of the BACP review, the Dementia Action Alliance released this statement:
"The Dementia Action Alliance are pleased that BACP has produced this systematic review which brings together evidence on what forms of counselling and skills-building is helpful for carers of people with dementia.
We know that carers often receive little help, so this research provides a useful foundation for designing interventions and counselling which can work".
Psychological interventions for carers of people with dementia: a systematic review of quantitative and qualitative evidence, by Ruth Elvish, Sammi-Jo Lever, Jodie Johnstone, Rosanne Cawley and John Keady, ISBN: 13 978-1-905114-38-2, is available to download free of charge from the BACP website: http://tinyurl.com/cz694lg.
The full text of Prime Minister's challenge on dementia: Delivering major improvements in dementia care and research by 2015 can be found on the Department of Health website: http://tinyurl.com/84qfvoq.