The incidence of dementia is increasing and therefore the number of people who are providing informal care for a friend or relative is also increasing, at a time when community health and social care resources are facing financial constraints. The CARIS study aims to explore effective ways of supporting family carers through developing our understanding of resilience and social support.

Resilience is a health measure with growing links to wellbeing and improved outcomes for both the carer and the person they care for; social support has been shown to be critical to developing and maintaining resilience. However stigma associated with dementia and the practicalities of maintaining social support networks may impact on the carer’s experience and access to social support. The CARIS study explores perceptions of social support and opportunities for resilience that social support from dementia cafes and dementia friendly community activities may bring for dementia carers. It aims to further the research which examines the relationship between carer resilience, social support, subjective wellbeing, psychological health and complexity of care. 

key research questions

  • Aim 1: To explore the opportunities dementia carers have to develop resilience through social support from friends, family and the wider community
  • Aim 2: To describe the demographic and psychosocial profile of carers who attend dementia cafes
  • Aim 3: To investigate the relationships between attendance at dementia cafes and resilience, social support and well-being measures for carers of people with dementia.

research design and output

The CARIS study uses a mixed methods design to answer these research questions. Aim 1 uses a qualitative design to describe carers’ experiences of social support. An interpretative description methodology is used to discover the barriers and facilitators to social support, from defining the concept to identifying access issues in the context of dementia caring. In order to explore carers’ perceptions and opinions about social support semi structured interviews will be used to collect primary data.
Aims 2 and 3 use a cross sectional survey design to gather quantitative data. Standardised measures are used to assess resilience, subjective wellbeing, perceived social support, psychological wellbeing and the complexity of caregiving.

research team and funding

Sue Jones – PhD Candidate

Eneida Mioshi – Primary Supervisor

Anne Killett – Secondary supervisor

The project is funded by CLAHRC East of England as part of the Research Capacity Building in Dementia Care project (RCDCP)