Laver, K.1, Crotty, M.1,2, Clemson, L.3
1 Flinders University, South Australia, 2 Southern Adelaide LHN, SA Health, 3 University of Sydney
Background: People with dementia and their families have called for programs that involve carers and focus on promoting independence. Such programs have been shown to be effective in improving outcomes for both the person with dementia and their family. However, most programs tested to date have involved multiple home visits and are challenging to implement.
Objectives: This project aimed to determine whether telehealth delivery was non-inferior to conventional face-to-face delivery of the same dyadic dementia care program.
Methods: We conducted a randomised controlled trial to determine whether telehealth delivery was non-inferior to conventional home visits. People in the telehealth group received two home visits and up to eight consultations using videoconferencing software and tablet devices.
Results: 63 dyads were recruited. Outcomes were similar between groups suggesting that telehealth was non-inferior. The average travel time was significantly less in the telehealth group. Many families participating in the telehealth arm of the study already owned devices and use of the technology deterred few participants.
Conclusions: It was possible to provide multiple consultations using telehealth technologies without compromising core principles of the treatment program and while achieving similar outcomes. Telehealth delivery reduced travel time and the cost of program delivery.
Associate Professor Laver has over 15 years of clinical experience as an occupational therapist (2003 onwards) working in rehabilitation with people with dementia or stroke. Most of her clinical career was spent working at the Flinders Medical Centre and Repatriation General Hospital. After completing a PhD in 2012 she has research experience in testing rehabilitation interventions (in the fields of dementia and stroke) and other nonpharmacological therapy approaches. She has in interest in the use of innovative technologies in rehabilitation authoring Cochrane Reviews in this area. She has expertise in knowledge translation and leads national research projects aiming to close the gap between research and practice.