Increasing the implementation of START - a psychological therapy for anxiety and depression in family carers of people with dementia

Research project: Foundation laying to widen access to START (STrAtegies for RelaTives).

Lead investigator: Professor Gill Livingston 
Institution: University College London
Grant type: Implementation Grant
Duration: 36 months
Amount: £400,000

What do we already know?

Up to 40 percent of family carers providing care to a person with dementia show signs of depression and anxiety. START (strategies for relatives) is an intervention for family carers, consisting of eight psychological therapy sessions which aim to reduce their anxiety and depression.

START has been shown to be both cost-effective and effective at decreasing and preventing anxiety and depression in family carers, and improving their quality of life.

Despite its success, START has not yet been made widely available for a variety of reasons. These include lack of money and available staff, as well as how it fits in with existing NHS services. In places where START has been implemented, there are waiting lists to receive treatment because there are so many carers who may benefit from it. 

What does this project involve?

This project aims to provide a plan for how START can be implemented and delivered within the charity sector. The researchers are also adapting START specifically for minority ethnic communities, starting with the South Asian community. The project has three phases. 

In the first phase of the project, the researchers will interview South Asian family carers, people involved with Alzheimer's Society and therapists. They aim to work out what the barriers to implementing START are, and what might help to enable its implementation, such as training and support for therapists. 

The second phase of the project will use the information gathered in phase one to make START available within the charity sector, and to South Asian family carers. This will include modifying the START manual and translating and audio-recording START materials to make them accessible to South Asian carers. In addition, Alzheimer's Society and bilingual South Asian support workers to be trained to deliver START.

The third phase of the project will evaluate how well these measures have helped to make START accessible through the charity sector and to South Asian carers. This will help the researchers determine what has worked and what could be improved.

How will this benefit people with dementia?

This project will make START more widely available to family carers of people with dementia through the charity sector. It will also make START more accessible to family carers from minority ethnic communities. This will help to reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression in family carers across the UK and will improve their quality of life.