Objective Caring for a dementia patient has an important
negative impact on the general wellbeing of family caregivers.
Although highly appreciated by carers, interventions in dementia
home care remain mainly ineffective in terms of lowering burden.
Consequently, in spite of an extensive support system, an abrupt
end of home care remains more rule than exception.
Method The hypothesis that the intervention of a care counselor,
coordinating home care in quasi-unstructured way during one
year, will alleviate caregivers’ feelings of depression was tested.
The study was performed in a controlled design with random
assignment to intervention or control group. The study population
was composed of community-dwelling elderly, characterized by
their caregivers as cognitively impaired. A skilled care counselor
was at the exclusive disposal of the intervention group. Subjects
in the control group were passively directed to the usual care
systems. Primary outcome measure was depression in the family
Results At the end of the trial, depression was 6.25 times
less frequent in the intervention group caregiver. The actual
intervention of the care counselor was minimal. Although
caregivers felt burdened and depressed, the formal support
remained stable over the ongoing year of the trial. On the other
hand, the minimal intervention of the care counselor made
caregivers feel less depressed with the same amount of support.
Conclusion Carers do not always need to be surrounded with
more formal carers, but they want to feel more supported. In
terms of policy, this could have some important implications.