A team of Australian experts is adapting a WHO-developed online dementia support program for informal carers in China.

Associate Professor Lily Xiao

The iSupport program consists of a series of user-friendly learning modules developed by the World Health Organisation for carers of people living with dementia

The self-help tool targets family members and friends of people with dementia and is designed to be adapted to national and local contexts, and is also recommended for health and social care workers, and private sector stakeholders including those involved in health technologies, service delivery and insurance.

It covers general information about dementia, everyday care for people with dementia, dealing with behaviour changes and self-care.

iSupport already being rolled out in Australia by Professor Lily Xiao from the Flinders University Caring Futures Institute, who is now leading the effort to adapt it for use in China along with colleagues Professor Julie Ratcliffe and UNSW’s Professor Henry Brodaty.

The National Foundation for Australia-China Relations is funding a trial involving 204 Adelaide-based Chinese Carers as well as carers in Beijing, Xi’an, Taipei, Hong Kong and Macau, which will be used to inform the development of multilingual versions of the program.

Professor Xiao says COVID-019 pandemic has highlighted the need for digital programs like iSupport.

“COVID-19 has accelerated the pace of change in technology and healthcare,” she said in a statement. “

“It’s important our informal carers of people with dementia are not left behind.

“Caring for someone with dementia comes with many complex issues around grief, loss, anxiety around the unknown and an intimate sense of responsibility.

“The carers’ own self-care is often overlooked, and many experience mental, physical and financial stress. iSupport is designed to target the needs of carers thoughout their whole caring journey.”

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