According to WHO, around 50 million people worldwide have dementia, and this number will triple by 2050. As a neurodegenerative disease it affects memory, cognitive skills and behaviours, Dementia causes a significant psychological and emotional impact on families, especially caregivers.
Aware of this challenge, the WHO designed iSupport for Dementia, an online training programme for carers of people with dementia, that aims at to prevent and/or decrease problems associated with dementia caregiving, but also to improve life quality, both for people with dementia and their informal caregivers.
Since 2019, a research team from the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (ICBAS, University of Porto) and the Center for Health Technology and Services Research (CINTESIS, University of Porto) has been working on the Portuguese version of iSupport, in partnership with Portuguese Alzheimer Association and WHODepartment of Mental Health and Psychoactive Substance Abuse.
In 2020, this research team was integrated into the SHAPES project consortium. Together with the University College Cork (UCC), they have addressed several efforts to empower a Pilot study in two different European pilot sites (Portugal and Ireland).
The iSupport-Portugal project is developing the translation, cultural adaptation, technical evaluation (usability, acceptance and efficiency) of this innovative program, as well as an intervention study to determine the effectiveness of the Portuguese version of the iSupport program in reducing perceived burden, anxious and depressive symptoms, and in increasing quality of life, positive aspects of providing care and general self-efficacy (ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT04104568, registered on September 26, 2019).
The program is composed by 23 sessions, distributed over five (5) thematic modules that address different aspects of care delivery, and caregivers (or end-user), who can create their own personalized plan. By tips, suggestions and training, iSupport-Portugal supports caregivers to better understand how to deal with behavioural changes in dementia, how to provide the best quality care, and how to manage their own well-being and self-care.
Aligned with the (Portuguese) Health Strategy in the Area of Dementia, iSupport-Portugal aims to innovate the research, practice, and political/strategic decision making available support services for informal caregivers of people with dementia, and providing an innovative digital intervention with feasibility, acceptance and effectiveness.
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