Family caregivers of people with motor neurone disease (MND) experience adverse health outcomes as a result of their caregiving experience. This may be alleviated if their support needs are identified and addressed in a systematic and timely manner. The objective of the present study was to assess the feasibility and relevance of the Carer Support Needs Assessment Tool (CSNAT) in home-based care during the period of caregiving from the perspectives of the family caregivers of people with MND and their service providers.
The study was conducted during 2014 in Western Australia. Some 30 family caregivers and 4 care advisors participated in trialing the CSNAT intervention, which involved two visits from care advisors (6–8 weeks apart) to identify and address support needs. The feedback from family caregivers was obtained via telephone interviews and that of care advisors via a self-administered questionnaire.
A total of 24 caregivers completed the study (80% completion rate) and identified the highest support priorities as “knowing what to expect in the future,” “knowing who to contact if concerned,” and “equipment to help care.” The majority found that this assessment process adequately addressed their needs and gave them a sense of validation, reassurance, and empowerment. Care advisors advocated the CSNAT approach as an improvement over standard practice, allowing them to more clearly assess needs, to offer a more structured follow-up, and to focus on the caregiver and family.
Significance of Results:
The CSNAT approach for identifying and addressing family caregivers' support needs was found to be relevant and feasible by MND family caregivers and care advisors. The tool provided a formal structure to facilitate discussions with family caregivers and thus enable needs to be addressed. Such discussions can also inform an evidence base for the ongoing development of services, ensuring that new and improved services are designed to meet the explicit needs of the family caregivers of people with a motor neurone disease.