Specialist nursing and community support for the carers of people with dementia living at home: an evidence synthesis.
- Publisher: Wiley
health | nursing
Specialist nurses are one way of providing support for family carers of people with dementia, but relatively little is known about what these roles achieve, or if they are more effective than roles that do not require a clinical qualification. The aim of this review was to synthesise the literature on the scope and effectiveness of specialist nurses, known as Admiral Nurses, and set this evidence in the context of other community-based initiatives to support family carers of people with dementia. We undertook a systematic review of the literature relating to the scope and effectiveness of Admiral Nurses and a review of reviews of interventions to support the family carers of people with dementia. To identify studies, we searched electronic databases, undertook lateral searches and contacted experts. Searches were undertaken in November 2012. Results are reported narratively with key themes relating to Admiral Nurses identified using thematic synthesis. We included 33 items relating to Admiral Nurses (10 classified as research) and 11 reviews evaluating community-based support for carers of people with dementia. There has been little work to evaluate specific interventions provided by Admiral Nurses, but three overarching thematic categories were identified: (i) relational support, (ii) co-ordinating and personalising support and (iii) challenges and threats to the provision of services by Admiral Nurses. There was an absence of clearly articulated goals and service delivery was subject to needs of the host organisation and the local area. The reviews of community-based support for carers of people with dementia included 155 studies but, in general, evidence that interventions reduced caregiver depression or burden was weak, although psychosocial and educational interventions may reduce depression in carers. Community support for carers of people with dementia, such as that provided by Admiral Nurses, is valued by family carers, but the impact of such initiatives is not clearly established.