Who cares for the carers? carerhelp: development and evaluation of an online resource to support the wellbeing of those caring for family members at the end of their life

Jennifer Tieman, Peter Hudson, Kristina Thomas, D. Saward, Deborah Parker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

Background: Most people living with a terminal illness and approaching death will need the assistance of a non-professional carer such as a family member, friend, or neighbour to provide physical, emotional, and practical caring supports. A significant portion of these carers can feel overwhelmed, isolated and experience psychological and/or financial distress. Carers can have unmet information needs and information needs can change across the caring period. 

Methods: Guided by an Australian National Reference Group, this project undertook a multiphase set of activities to enable the development of an online carer resource. These activities included a literature review of key issues and considerations for family carers supporting someone with a terminal illness, a scoping scan of existing online resources, and interviews and focus groups with eighteen carers to understand their needs and context of caring. This information formed the basis for potential digital content. A web project team was established to create the information architecture and content pathways. User testing survey and usability assessment of the CarerHelp Website was undertaken to assess/optimise functionality prior to release. An evaluation process was also devised. 

Results: The literature review identified carer needs for practical and psychological support along with better education and strategies to improve communication. The scoping scan of available online resources suggested that while information available to carers is plentiful, much of that which is provided is general, disparately located, inadequately detailed, and disease specific. The eighteen carers who were interviewed highlighted the need for helpful information on: services, symptom management, relationships, preparation for death, managing the emotional and psychological burden that often accompanies caring, and support during bereavement. User testing and usability assessment of the prototype resource led to changes to enhance the user experience and effectiveness of navigation. It also highlighted a lack of awareness of existing resources and the needs of marketing and communication to address this problem. 

Conclusions: The project led to the development of an open access online resource, CarerHelp (www.carerhelp.com.au), for use by carers and families caring for a person who has palliative care needs. The web metrics demonstrate substantial use of the resources.

Original languageEnglish
Article number98
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Palliative Care
Volume22
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2023

Keywords

  • Bereavement
  • Caregivers
  • Digital health
  • Palliative care
  • Websites

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