RURAL CARERS ISOLATED: For 20 years Pam Eather has been providing support to carers in Warwick however people are still an aware of the support services available
RURAL CARERS ISOLATED: For 20 years Pam Eather has been providing support to carers in Warwick however people are still an aware of the support services available Nicole Zurcas

Caring for dementia carers in focus as uni launches project

ACCESSING support when caring for someone living with dementia can be difficult outside big cities, but a university is working on a project to create an online community for carers.

Southern Downs resident and founder of Warwick's Dementia Support Group, Pam Eather has been helping local carers for over 20 years.

Mrs Eather said it was one of the toughest jobs a person could take on and carers needed a lot of patience.

"It's a 24-hour job looking after someone living with dementia,” she said.

"It can be very stressful, the person you're caring for can get frustrated and blame the carer for unknown things.”

Carers in remote communities have difficulties accessing support services and the biggest issue identified is lack of awareness.

"The problem is people don't know how to get information or where to go for help,” Mrs Eather said.

"We need a central place that can advise people who can help us, where to go and what to do.”

This week the Federal Minister for Aged Care Ken Wyatt launched an innovative national research project with Central Queensland University aiming to provide support in remote and rural locations across Australia.

The Caring for Carers program will asses the effectiveness of technology in supporting carers of people living with dementia.

The six-week trial will use video conferencing to connect carers to health professionals.

Research lead Professor Lynne Parkinson said the initiative would be a starting place for building an online community for carers.

"What we're looking to do is connect carers with other carers, to increase their self confidence, mental health and quality of care,” she said.

Professor Parkinson said the project involved collaboration with carers to develop the program.

"It's developed by carers for carers and will be tailored to their needs,” she said.

The program will enable carers log on to an online video chat group for one hour a week.

The first half of the conference is designed to educate the carers, providing information and speaking with health professionals.

The second half will allow participants to have free discussion on any topic.

Talking is the best form of support for carers in rural areas, Mrs Eather said.

"Everyone needs someone to talk to and most people think they are alone and don't know there are others out there who are experiencing the same things,” she said.

Mrs Eather hosts a support group every second Tuesday of the month and welcomes all forms of carers to attend.

For more information you can phone Mrs Eather at 4661 3917.

To enrol in the video chat trial head to Central Queensland University website for details.



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